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Driver 'felt unwell before crash'

Published 07/07/2015

The cause of the crash is under investigation
The cause of the crash is under investigation

A bus driver reported feeling unwell at the start of his shift before he crashed his double-decker into another bus, leading to 13 people being taken to hospital, it has emerged.

Bosses at Brighton and Hove Buses revealed that the driver's supervisor advised him not to work, but he later told a second supervisor that he felt fit to drive.

The driver then got behind the wheel of the No 5 double-decker and appeared to have fallen ill again before he crashed in Brighton city centre yesterday.

Allegations that the driver was pressured by the firm into working after earlier feeling unwell were "unfounded", the company said in a statement.

The disclosures came in an update by Brighton and Hove Buses managing director Martin Harris about the crash, which triggered a major incident for emergency services.

It also emerged that the firm's investigation had now been narrowed down to the driver's health after no issues were found with the No 5. He last underwent a professional medical examination in March 2013.

Mr Harris said in a statement: "Our driver did report to a supervisor that he did feel unwell at the time he was due to commence his shift.

"Our supervisor correctly advised him not to commence his duty and to advise whether he felt able to drive or not later.

"Our driver subsequently, and of his own volition, reported back to a second supervisor, advising that he then felt fine to drive and would commence work.

"He then commenced his service approximately one hour later than scheduled as a result of being able to take this break.

"He then appears to have become ill again about an hour and a half into his driving.

"We have been advised subsequently that investigation into the cause of our driver feeling unwell at this point indicates a condition of which he had no previous history.

"We are seeking confirmation of this point."

One witness, Stuart Quinn, 41, told how he saw the bus travelling along with a large traffic cone wedged underneath it moments before the crash.

Locals told how people from nearby shops poured out to offer help as the injured got off the buses. Fire crews, police, paramedics and an air ambulance were scrambled to the scene.

Two people, the driver of the rear bus and a male passenger, were taken in a life-threatening condition to Brighton's Royal Sussex County Hospital. Five more were also admitted in less serious condition.

Six more casualties went to the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, and 10 were assessed at the scene but did not need to go to hospital, South East Coast Ambulance Service (Secamb) said.

Mr Harris said the firm has investigated using CCTV, telematics data, eyewitness statements and statements from his own staff.

He said: "I can confirm that the focus of our investigation is now primarily on the health of our driver at the time of the accident.

"We have gathered statements from drivers and supervisors who were in contact with our driver before he commenced driving yesterday, viewed CCTV footage, and reviewed information about his general health and condition following yesterday's accident.

"We have investigated the allegations made by some people regarding our response to our driver's health on the morning of the incident.

"The allegations that he was pressured by the company to work after earlier feeling unwell are unfounded."

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