Rhoose school crash driver Robert Bell's 'terrifying experience'
- 21 June 2013
- From the section Wales
The driver whose car overturned outside a Vale of Glamorgan primary school injuring nine people has spoken of his "terrifying experience".
Motorist Robert Bell, five pupils, a lollipop lady and two other women were injured as parents took their children to school in Rhoose on Thursday.
One girl, nine, was treated in intensive care for a fractured skull.
Mr Bell, 61, said his grand-daughter told him he coughed before he lost consciousness in the crash.
He described how his grand-daughter, who was travelling with him to Rhws Primary School, helped him after he was knocked unconscious.
"I was stationary and my grand-daughter said I coughed and the next thing I knew I'm coming round and I'd been unconscious and upside down," he told BBC Wales.
"I haven't a clue what happened. Luckily my grand-daughter came round before me. She just has tiny minor cuts. She had the sense of mind to undo her seatbelt and reach over and undo mine and we then dropped."
Mr Bell suffered cuts and bruises in the crash in the village of Rhoose near Barry at 08:50 BST on Thursday, and has some stitches to his forehead.
He has been helping police who are not treating the incident as deliberate.
A major incident response was launched following the incident and dozens of police officers, fire crews, ambulance teams went to the scene which was described as looking like "a war zone" by people living nearby.
Four girls and a boy, all aged under 10, were taken to hospital as well as the driver and three women.
The school lollipop lady Karin Williams and two other women were treated for broken bones.
The nine-year-old girl was treated in intensive care for a fractured skull at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. Three other children and a woman were still being cared for there on Friday.
Another woman was in a comfortable condition at the Princess of Wales hospital in Bridgend.
Matthew Roymon, who lives opposite Mr Bell and whose daughter was injured, said he believed it was a "freak accident" and he did not blame Mr Bell in any way.
Mr Roymon said the incident "could've happened to anyone", while he also praised the response of the emergency services, parents and the school as "second to none".
His daughter was taken to hospital with injuries to a tendon in her hand and a broken nose.
Education psychologists offered support to pupils and staff following the incident.
Acting head teacher Jan Morgan said: "As you can imagine, this situation has been extremely traumatic for all concerned.
"All members of staff showed exceptional strength of character as they dealt with the rapidly changing situation, both at the scene of the accident and inside the school.
"We are very proud of the way in which the whole community pulled together under difficult circumstances."
Family psychologist Melanie Gill said in situations like this it is the parents who often need a lot of help in explaining what has happened to the children.
She told BBC Radio Wales: "It may take a little while. Some (children) may be very frightened and other might hide their own distress in order to take care of their parents.
"If a parent is distressed they have to show why they are distressed to their child."
Eluned Parrott, the assembly member for South Wales Central and a parent who has children at the school, praised the support that had been offered to those affected by the crash.
She told BBC Radio Wales: "It has been a huge shock for people whether you're a parent of a child at the school or not and the community is very close and we all know somebody who has been involved.
"However, the benefit of that kind of closeness means that people are rallying around."
Chief Supt Joe Ruddy of South Wales Police appealed for witnesses.
"We have a team of very skilled investigators who are now carrying out inquiries to establish exactly what caused this collision to take place," he said.
"I would like to thank those who assisted at the scene with first aid and those who have taken the time to contact us to provide witnesses statements."