Residents of a town mourning the death of a schoolgirl killed in a coach crash amid “horrendous” weather conditions were last night astounded that the bus had been allowed to travel.
Natasha Paton (17) died as a coach plunged off an icy bridge during a snowstorm and into a river, throwing the girl from the vehicle and coming to rest on top of her.
Three other passengers on the coach, which had been taking children from Lanark Grammar School in South Lanarkshire on an outing to Alton Towers, were seriously injured and another 40 were hurt.
Police said driving conditions were horrendous at the time of the crash and that it was clear snow “had a part to play” in the accident which killed Natasha, of Cleghorn, South Lanarkshire, when the bus came off the A73 at Wiston, Lanarkshire, after travelling 12 miles from the school. Five of the injured remained in hospital last night in a stable condition.
Susan Thornton, whose son Adam had intended to join the outing but was kept at home because of the appalling weather conditions, expressed surprise yesterday that the trip had gone ahead. “When I woke it was clear that it had been snowing through the night because of the level of snow. It was bad enough at midnight for me to consider him not going,” she said.
George Hamilton was among residents in Lanark who couldn't believe the outing hadn't been cancelled. “I think it will make a lot of people think why did it happen when it could have been prevented?”
A spokeswoman for South Lanarkshire Council said it would be wrong to draw premature conclusions about the cause of the crash: “What we do know is that many of our school buses were out this morning taking children to schools including Lanark Grammar. The roads had been gritted throughout the night and traffic was moving.”
The blizzards which swept across Scotland left more than 20,000 homes cut off from electricity supplies yesterday morning.