Leicester

South Africa college trip crash 'was accident', says coroner

South Africa crash victims Image copyright other
Image caption The three students were on a field trip with Brooksby Melton College in Leicestershire

A bus crash which killed three students on a trip to South Africa in 2010 was an accident, a coroner has recorded.

Eleanor Payne and Samantha Lake, 19, and Daniel Greenwood, 22 died when their tour bus skidded and overturned near Nelspruit, Mpumalanga.

They were among a group of students and teachers from Brooksby Melton College in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.

After the hearing their families said the condition of the bus as an "accident waiting to happen".

Previously, tour guide Trevor Dearlove denied failing to tell the passengers to wear seat belts and the bus driver was cleared of culpable murder.

The three-day inquest at Loughborough Coroner's Court heard the group, who were studying for a degree in animal management and welfare, were on their way from Swaziland to visit a chimpanzee sanctuary.

Students who survived the crash, told the hearing their guide did not tell them to wear seat belts and encouraged them to take in their surroundings.

Image copyright other
Image caption The Zimbabwean driver of the bus was found not guilty of culpable murder in South Africa

The court heard that as the bus came down a steep hill at speed, it had no way of slowing down because the vehicle brakes had burnt out.

The coroner said while the families were critical of the bus, its condition did not contribute to the crash.

Coroner Robert Chapman, recorded all three died as a result of the road traffic accident.

A statement from the families read by Rob Greenwood, criticised the vehicle.

"The fact is, that if this vehicle had not been issued with a road worthy certificate, it would not have been allowed on the road and the accident could not have happened," he said.

"This vehicle was a tragedy waiting to happen."

He described the students as "creative, loving and clever people at the start of promising careers and lively adventurous lives".

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