Coach driver Abdul Haq from Peterborough is hailed a hero after March crash
- Credit: Archant
The driver of a coach which ended up in a ditch on the side of the A141 March by-pass this morning has been hailed a hero.
Passengers on the 70-seater coach belonging to Peterborough-based Bluefox Transport told how quick-thinking driver Abdul Haq saved their lives by swerving to avoid a head-on collision with a lorry.
But Mr Haq, who was driving the coach load of workers from Vital Recruitment in Peterborough to Albert Bartletts in Chatteris, has shrugged off the praise.
Speaking on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, Mr Haq described the moment when he realised a lorry was heading straight towards his coach as it tried to overtake along the by-pass at around 6.15am.
Talking to DJ Johnny Dee, Mr Haq said: “I was coming from Peterborough driving on this side when suddenly a lorry coming in the opposite direction tried to overtake.
“He came in my lane and I tried to brake but there was no room and I swerved there was no other way - otherwise there would have been a head-on (collision), it would have been very bad.
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“There was no other way when some idiot comes in front of you, you have to swerve.”
Mr Haq described how his coach ‘capsized’ into the ditch and everybody started shouting.
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“I tried to calm them down. I had 70 people on board, a full coach.
“People were shouting I tried to calm them and then I opened the fire door and took everybody out one by one,” he said.
The coach driver’s quick thinking earned him praise from the passengers who mostly escaped unhurt. Only one woman in her fifties suffered serious injuries, including a broken leg. She was taken to Peterborough City Hospital.
“She was the only one, everyone else was mostly shocked,” said Mr Haq, who is planning to take the rest of the day off to get over the shock himself.
A further 22 patients – aged between 17 and 60 - were treated at the scene by ambulance crews and a Magpas Helimedix doctor and paramedic.
A Magpas spokesman said: “These patients suffered a combination of head, chest and leg injuries - as well as headaches.
“Fortunately no one endured any life threatening injuries. Five patients were subsequently taken to Peterborough City Hospital in land ambulances for further treatment.”
The road was closed between Mill Hill Garage and Knights End Road. Motorists were advised to avoid the area or expect delays.
Police are trying to trace the driver of a yellow bus following the accident, which saw that section of the by-pass closed for several hours until the coach was winched out of the ditch.
Sergeant Simon Goldsmith said: “I am particularly keen to speak to the driver of a yellow bus which was seen in the area at the time of the collision.
“I believe it was heading towards March, coming from the direction of Chatteris on the A141.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the road policing unit on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
Four fire crews, a fleet of ambulances and all roads traffic police units were quick on the scene.
Police said the ambulance service immediately began to attend all the passengers “examining bumps and bruises and the walked wounded”.
One immediate problem facing the emergency services was taking care of the passengers – a relief coach was called to the scene. It is not clear if the passengers intended travelling onto work.