Driver of bus hit by wave defends decision to cross road
- 3 February 2014
- From the section Wales
The driver of a bus hit by a wave and knocked off a coastal road in Pembrokeshire has denied ignoring warnings to stop and turn around.
Police are investigating the incident at Newgale during high tides and strong winds on Saturday which left 10 people needing to be rescued.
Council workers said they advised the bus driver not to continue and tried to flag him down when he did.
Driver Jon Ashman claimed he had been told the road was "passable with care".
He told BBC Wales workers had not advised him to avoid the A487 in Newgale, which has been closed since high tides on Saturday and will remain so for the next few days.
He said: "I was told it was passable with care. There's a fair bit of water and a few stones on the road but nothing massive until we were literally hit by a wave which picked the front of the bus up and shunted it off the road."
Mr Ashman said they were hit by three waves in total, adding: "It's not something I want to go through in the near future."
He said of council claims that staff tried to attract his attention to stop him driving along the road once he began: "I don't believe that to be the case. I didn't see anyone there.
"Ultimately I'm not going to put myself or passengers at risk. It's not in my best interest. I'm paid to get people from A to B safely and that's what I endeavour to do."
Pembrokeshire council said the road was in the process of being closed at the time of the incident.
In a statement, the council said workers had started to direct traffic to use an alternative safe route avoiding the Newgale road.
The bus driver had been told of the situation, according to the council.
The statement continued: "The driver chose to continue his journey along the main road.
"A council operative followed the bus in his own car equipped with a flashing orange beacon on the roof.
"He was also flashing his headlights in an attempt to stop the bus but was unsuccessful.
"A member of the public on the bridge at the bottom of Pen-y-Cwm Hill also tried to flag the bus down with a torch but he too was unsuccessful.
"The council has provided information to the police in relation to their investigation into the incident."
Dyfed-Powys Police said officers were called to the Newgale incident just after 19:00 GMT.
"Weather conditions at the scene were severe and additional support was provided by the coastguard and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service," the force said in a statement.
"Due to the location of the vehicle and the flooding at the scene, passengers were assisted from the vehicle to an awaiting replacement bus. No-one was injured."
Elsewhere, a train van was blown on its side at Porthmadog, Gwynedd, at around midnight on Sunday.
North Wales Police said the van, which was parked on the Cob, posed no risk to traffic.
Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways were planning to put the vehicle upright on Monday.
Clearance work has begun along other parts of the Welsh coast after strong winds and high tides at the weekend.
The Met Office has warned of more stormy weather to come.
There was one flood warning and seven flood alerts left in force in Wales by Monday afternoon, down from 26 warnings at the start of the day, and a yellow warning of heavy rain across south and west Wales.
There were yellow warnings of rain for the southern coast of Wales on Monday and the southern half of Wales on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Met Office also warned of gusts of up to 60mph hitting the west coast of Wales on Monday and gales reaching 70mph on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
A Met Office spokesman said: "Given the additional rain associated with this system there is a risk of further flooding, particularly in areas already affected so far this winter."
Natural Resources Wales said emergency repair work had begun in Fairbourne, Gwynedd, after the sea wall was damaged.
Contractors were building an access road to the site in order to bring in rocks to shore up the defences.
Meanwhile, an operation to clean up Aberystwyth promenade of debris and shingle caused by Saturday's high tides began on Monday.
Alun Williams, Ceredigion council's cabinet member for transport, waste and carbon management, said: "We are really pleased that our work to bolster the sea defences on Aberystywth promenade has resulted in minimal damage.
"We aim to clear the promenade of shale in the next few days."
A council spokeswoman said Marine Terrace had reopened to traffic late on Monday afternoon and South Marine would re-open on Tuesday.
RNLI personnel are able to access the area, she added.
The repair work already carried out on the promenade following storm damage in January remained intact, she added.
"The little shingle deposited on the promenade is not much more than a normal high spring might deposit," she added.
About 600 university students living on the seafront were either re-housed or went home or to another part of the UK for the weekend.
An Aberystwyth University spokesman said: "There was some minor damage to seafront residences but no damage to any student bedrooms."
Students have now been told they can return to their accommodation.
In Pembrokeshire, the road between Puncheston and Wolfscastle has been closed due to a tree falling on the road.
The seafront in Gelliswick Bay in Milford Haven should reopen on Monday afternoon.
In the village of Dale, a small section of road in front of the boat yard and Griffin Inn remains closed, with a clean-up of the road at the Gann and Mullock Bridge also underway.
There was some minor flooding in Haverfordwest and Fishguard.