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Teenagers safe after bus overturns in bad weather conditions

Published 14/09/2015

The man was found dead in his vehicle in floodwater in the Dugort area of Achill Island
The man was found dead in his vehicle in floodwater in the Dugort area of Achill Island
The man was found dead in his vehicle in floodwater in the Dugort area of Achill Island

Two teenagers escaped with minor injuries after their bus overturned into a field.

It was one of two accidents after heavy rains sparked localised and flash flooding which are believed to have caused the death of an elderly man who was driving on Achill Island last night.

In the second crash, pupils were on a 52 seater coach with school mates on their way to three schools in Fermoy, Cork when the driver lost control after coming down a steep hill outside the town.

Gardai said the crash happened at South Cregg as the bus took a sharp turn.

It went over a ditch and slid several yards into a roadside field as it overturned on to one side.

The crash happened shortly before 8.30am on a road linking Ballyhooly to Fermoy and pupils from St Colman's College, Loreto College and Colaiste an Chraoibhin were on board.

Several emergency crews responded to the crash and two pupils trapped following the accident were freed within an hour.

It is understood a number of pupils suffered cuts and bruises with at least one reported fracture and no-one described as seriously injured.

Staff and principals from the three schools have met to see pupils and reassure parents.

It is understood there had been heavy rain in the area overnight and in recent days.

James O'Donoghue, principal in Bishop Murphy Memorial School in Fermoy, was travelling on the road where the accident happened a few minutes behind.

"It was a huge fright," he said.

"I did not know what was going on at first as I could not see the bus as I was in a line of traffic but it was an awful fright altogether. It was passers-by who told me what had happened.

"There was an acute bend on the road. Thankfully it was not any worse."

No pupils from Bishop Murphy were on board.

Gardai and school principals were also liaising to record the exact numbers of pupils from the respective schools who were on board at the time.

The crash happened after heavy rain affected many parts of the west of the country, with an 82 -year-old man found dead in his car after it was swept away by a localised flood.

The incident happened in the Dugort area of Achill Island at about 10pm last night with the water said to have been several feet deep at the time.

Gardai said officers are investigating the circumstances around the incident and the man's body was taken to Mayo General Hospital in Castlebar.

Forensic crash investigators were on the scene with AA Roadwatch saying that the crossroad at the Strand in Dugort was closed for several hours because of flooding.

Motorists were warned to only drive through water if you know it is not too deep for the car, allow oncoming traffic to pass first and test the car's brakes as soon as you can after leaving the water.

Weather warnings were issued to motorists to take extra care from yesterday, including alerts about conditions in parts of Connemara and Kerry with drivers being told only to travel in exceptional circumstances.

Among the worst hit areas was Clifden, where the Sky Road was closed following a landslide and Beach Road was shut due to flooding, as was the R379 road between Cleggan Cross and Cleggan Village and the N59 from Clifden to Letterfrack.

Floods were also reported from Mulranny to Achill in Mayo and on the Ring of Kerry between Kells and Cahersiveen, however the road has reopened.

Bus Eireann later confirmed the north Cork school run was a sub-contracted service run by Glenferry Coaches.

It picked up 52 secondary school pupils from the Rathcormac and Ballyhooly areas going to schools in Fermoy.

Bus Eireann noted the incident occurred " following adverse weather conditions this weekend".

"The driver and all school pupils were able to make their way off the bus with the assistance of the emergency services. Three pupils - who are understood to have minor injuries - were taken by ambulance to hospital for treatment," a spokeswoman said.

"The cause of the accident has not yet been established, but is currently under investigation by Bus Eireann and the relevant authorities.

"The company would like to thank the emergency services and the Garda Siochana for their swift response in dealing with the incident."

One pupil is understood to have suffered a broken leg.

It is understood the coach hit a small tree as it slid into the field and overturned.

The emergency exit door at the rear of the vehicle was blocked and the driver smashed the front window to allow the pupils to escape.

Scores of worried relatives arrived at schools in Fermoy as reports of the accident emerged, while a small number of children were taken to Cork University Hospital.

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