Sunderland bus crash drivers had both taken ill, confirms investigation

Bus crashed into Destination bar on High Street West.
Bus crashed into Destination bar on High Street West.
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BUS drivers involved in two crashes just days apart were both taken ill, investigations revealed today.

The first Stagecoach bus ploughed into the JobCentre in Sunderland city centre on May 13.

Just days later, three passengers were taken to hospital after a second Stagecoach bus hit a building in High Street West.

Transport company Stagecoach launched investigations into the smashes.

A spokeswoman from the firm has now said there was no fault with either bus.

She told the Echo: “Our investigation into these two separate incidents has concluded that there were no defects with the vehicles involved.

“However, on both occasions it was noted that the drivers involved became unwell while in service.”

She added: “Safety is our absolute priority. Our best wishes remain with those who were involved in these incidents.”

Seamus Dempsey was at a meeting in the JobCentre, in John Street, when the Stagecoach number three service hit railings outside, damaging his black touring bike.

The 57-year-old, who is originally from Dublin, said: “It sounded like a load of furniture falling overhead.

“Then I went out to find my bike. I thought it was a write-off, but it looks like it’s just bust the saddle and the back wheel is wobbling a bit.

“It’s lucky no one was injured.”

The bus, which was en-route from Farringdon via Plains Farm, was left with damage to its front bumper following the smash.

Paramedics and police were called to the scene and the north end of John Street was closed for nearly an hour.

The bus driver was taken by ambulance to Sunderland Royal Hospital, but he is not thought to have suffered any injuries.

In the second smash, retired firefighter Thomas Hutchinson sprung into action after the Stagecoach number 20 service crashed into an empty bar.

The 61-year-old, from Millfield, had boarded the bus just seconds earlier, as it pulled up outside Sunderland Minster.

Mr Hutchinson described how he tried to take the wheel after he realised the driver had collapsed, but could not reach round the cab’s plastic screen.

The step-grandfather of two, was an acting sub-officer with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service for 31 years.

He suffered bumps and bruises in the accident, but did not need treatment.

A 59-year-old man and two women, aged 79 and 82, were taken to hospital.