Belfast Telegraph

Baby tribute to Belgium horror crash coach driver James 'Geordie' Chance

Pregnant daughter of Belgium crash victim to name little girl in his honour

By Staff Reporter

The heartbroken pregnant daughter of a coach driver killed in a horror crash in Belgium is to name the little girl after him in poignant tribute.

James 'Geordie' Chance died on Sunday when the vehicle he was travelling in hit a motorway bridge pillar.

Mr Chance was a passenger at the time of the accident.

Driver Stephen Cardwell was injured along with a teacher and two pupils.

Mr Chance's daughter Carrie-Ann is expecting a baby girl in August.

She said she will name the child Georgea, after her dad.

Carrie-Ann told the Ulster Star: "He has not only left a hole in the family, but in the community too."

Mr Chance (57), who was originally from Newcastle in England, was killed when the coach overturned on the E40 in the coastal town of Middelkerke on Sunday.

It was taking 34 children - aged between 11 and 13 - and teachers from Brentwood School in Essex to the city of Cologne in Germany.

Witnesses said the vehicle crashed into a motorway bridge pillar before overturning.

A teacher suffered a broken collarbone, one pupil had a head injury and another suffered a broken leg.

Geordie's co-driver, who was behind the wheel at the time, was taken to hospital but is said to be stable.

The children returned to the UK on Monday and Belgian police are now investigating the cause of the crash.

Carrie-Ann told the Ulster Star how the family first learned of the tragedy after it broke on Sky News.

"We tried frantically ringing the British Consul, the British Embassy, BBC, UTV and we were not getting any information," she said.

"We were watching the crash live on Sky News. When it was revealed that one of the drivers died I just knew it was daddy."

Carrie-Ann said she last spoke to him on Father's Day when she gave him a lift to work.

"I just said 'watch yourself and stay safe' - something that I have never said before. He just waved me off.

"Looking back, I feel there was a reason why I said that. Perhaps it was my way of saying goodbye.

"It was strange, they were my last words to him."

Mr Chance was employed with Lisburn-based Richmond Coaches for seven years.

His heartbroken wife Lyn said he was very conscientious.

"It was just a tragic accident. He was always very careful," she told the paper.

"He would make sure everyone had their seat-belt on before the coach went anywhere.

"We were told that is why all 35 children were saved, because he was so particular."

Richmond Coaches has said what happened was "a tragedy" and the company was co-operating with the authorities.

Belfast Telegraph


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