Glasgow & West Scotland

Coach passengers tell of fear as it plunged off A83 Rest and Be Thankful

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Media captionThe coach carrying 51 people rolled down an embankment

Passengers on a coach which left the road in high winds and rolled down an embankment have recalled their terror as the bus overturned towards a loch.

The tour coach, which came off the A83 in Argyll at the Rest and Be Thankful at about 14:10 on Thursday, came to rest on its wheels beside Loch Restil.

Of the 52 people on board, 23 were taken to hospital, where 18 remain.

Dave Russell, from London, and Wendy Bysouth, from Kent, said they thought the coach was going to hit the water.

'So frightening'

Ms Bysouth described the scene on the coach, which was owned and operated by Lochs and Glens Holidays, as it began to overturn.

She said: "All of a sudden I just felt the coach just move and start to roll and as it was rolling people were going up in the air, the windows were breaking, the curtains were going and we were getting nearer and nearer the loch.

"That's all I can remember, thinking, one more roll and we're in the loch, and it was so, so frightening."

Mr Russell said it was fortunate the bus did not end up in the loch.

"When it flipped over, I was looking at that water. I thought we were going in and there was no way we would have got out if it had gone in," he said.

"It hit the embankment and luckily, after that, I managed to get our seatbelts undone.

"We got out the window and I dialled 999 and got the emergency services, luckily, because the minute I finished the phone call the connection went."

Walking wounded

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said three patients were being treated at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow. One is in a serious but stable condition and the other two are stable.

Six others are being treated at the city's Western Infirmary and nine people in the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley. All are in a stable condition.

Following the crash, a rest centre was set up at the Three Villages Hall in nearby Arrochar to support the remaining 29 people on board - 25 of whom were described as walking wounded,

It is believed all 29 people spent the night at local hotels.

On Thursday, Road Policing Inspector Adam McKenzie said: "A tour bus which was heading through Argyll was struck by a very strong gust of wind which unfortunately blew it on to the muddy verge, causing the bus to flip on its side and roll down the hill coming to a rest at the side of Loch Restil."

Police, fire and helicopter rescue crews were sent to the scene around 180 yards (200m) north of the B828 junction and the road was closed while emergency services treated passengers and investigated the cause of the incident.

Local diversions were in place at the A819 at Inverary and also at the A82 north of Tarbet. The road has since re-opened and the bus has been removed from the embankment.

Ch Insp Fraser Candlish said: "This has clearly been a terrifying experience for all of those involved.

"Inquiries are ongoing to establish the exact circumstances surrounding the incident, however early indications would suggest that the high winds may have been a factor."

Police investigation

Lochs and Glens Holidays runs a number of coach trips, mainly in the Scottish Highlands, but picks up passengers across the UK.

The company's Twitter page said the coach was from the Medway Towns area in Kent.

A spokeswoman for the firm said: "We are providing all necessary support for those passengers who were on board and the relatives of those who have been injured.

"The driver and the company are co-operating fully with the police investigation to establish the exact cause."

Image copyright Stuart Herd

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