Hereford & Worcester

Bridge collapse school bus driver saves Tenbury Wells pupils

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Media captionBridge collapse driver: 'I couldn't believe what I was seeing' (Pictures: 360Skylens/SWNS)

A bus driver has described how he saved 11 children from plunging into a river by reversing off a collapsing bridge.

Derek Trow was taking pupils home from Lindridge St Lawrence CE Primary School in Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire.

As he crossed Eastham Bridge he saw the road give way ahead of him and managed to back up moments before it crumbled.

"There was an almighty row and the apex collapsed leaving a drop of about 10ft," the 62-year-old said. "We would have gone down there. We were lucky."

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"There were two buses - I was in the lead. I'd just got onto the bridge when I saw just over the apex some of the road had given way.

Image copyright Ryan Parkes, Tenbury Wells
Image caption Police received reports the bridge had collapsed at about 15:30 BST on Tuesday

"I stopped and gestured to the bus behind me to move so I could reverse back to get my wheels off the bridge.

"I've been driving buses for about 17 years and that's where your training kicks in. You just do it."

Image copyright Derek Trow
Image caption Derek Trow said his bus driver training kicked in when faced with a bridge collapse ahead

One pupil, 10-year-old Freddie, described how he was sitting at the the back of the minibus with his best friend on Tuesday evening when they saw the bridge crumble.

"We saw a big splash in the river but I don't think the bus driver saw it so we carried on going [to] about a quarter of the way up the bridge. Then we saw the other side going," he said.

"The bus driver started reversing and then the whole thing went."

Fisherman Alan Sheldon was about 200m away when he heard a "splash".

He said he walked up to the bridge, thinking it was children playing, and witnessed the centre arch collapse.

Image caption Freddie said he was sitting at the back of one of the minibuses when the bridge gave way
Image caption It is not yet known exactly what caused the bridge to crumble into the River Teme

The Grade II listed structure over the River Teme was built in 1793 and was originally a toll road until the council made it free in 1907.

Worcestershire County Council said the bridge was routinely inspected last December but because it is listed, repairs will take at least a year to carry out.

The area has been made safe and an investigation has been launched into what happened, a spokesman said.

A 10-mile diversion along the A443 is in place.

Image caption Police diverted traffic off the A443 in Lindridge after the bridge collapse

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