Stoke & Staffordshire

Coroner's 'surprise' over coach crash near Alton Towers

Scene - archive image
Image caption The fruit pickers had travelled from Peterborough for the day out in 2008

A coroner at the inquest into the death of a Polish fruit picker on a coach trip to Alton Towers said he could not believe the driver survived.

Piotr Wolski, 27, was one of 70 fruit pickers who had gone to the theme park in Staffordshire when he was killed and dozens were injured in August 2008.

Driver Richard Lane, who injured both legs, shouted "no brakes" not long after the coach left the park.

Coroner Ian Smith made the comment when he saw images of the crushed coach.

The fruit pickers had travelled from Peterborough for the day out on 18 August 2008.

Cab crushed

The coach had started to shake and speed up not long after it left the car park at the theme park, the inquest at Hanley Town Hall heard.

Witnesses said the driver started to shout "no brakes, no brakes", he started to cry and the coach started to bounce from side to side.

It crashed through a bridge over the River Churnet and on to the garden of a house below road level.

Mr Wolski was trapped under the coach and died from suffocation and crushing to the chest, the inquest was told.

The photographs of the crash scene showed the driver's cab had been crushed and the top of the double decker coach had collapsed on to the lower deck.

North Staffordshire coroner Mr Smith said: "I can't believe you came out of this alive".

Mr Lane replied: "Nor can I".

The inquest, which continues, also heard that not many of the passengers on board were wearing seat belts.

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