Firefighter tells FAI of coach driver’s shock in aftermath of crash

Natasha Paton (17) from Cleghorn who died in bus crash at Wiston 31/3/10
Natasha Paton (17) from Cleghorn who died in bus crash at Wiston 31/3/10
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THE phrase “I telt them that we shouldnae have went” was repeated over and over by injured Lanark Grammar school trip coach driver Raymond Munro as he lay near the wreck of the bus under which the body of 17-year-old Natasha Pation still lay undiscovered.

This was related to the Fatal Accident Inquiry into her death at Lanark Sheriff Court on Thursday afternoon by one of the firefighters who discovered the Cleghorn teenager’s body – over an hour after the coach crashed off the A73 at a bridge at Wiston and into a burn.

The same witness, 41-year-old Biggar firefighter Craig Whitefield, also told the inquiry that he and his colleagues had concluded that, from the position of her body, Natasha must have been thrown through a window of the coach after it tumbled down to the burn, the wreck then trapping her underwater; a post mortem showed that she died of drowning rather than from impact injuries.

Earler that afternoon Constable James Sheen (56) told the Inquiry of the “very hazardous” driving conditions in the early hours of the morning of the accident as he and a colleague were forced to drive to the accident sceene from Abington at around just 20mph despite being in a police 4X4 vehicle.

After arriving at the scene, he was called by a firefighter to the wreck of the coach to be shown Natsha’s foot protruding from under the vehicle; he put the discovery of the body at around 7am, one and a quarter hours after the accident.

Another constable quickly on the scene that morning was 38-year-old Alastair Marshall, who was subsequenty given the task of interviewing coach driver Raymond Munro in the post-accident investigation.

He told the Inquiry that he’d merely gone to Munro’s home eleven days after the accident to check his health and availability for further police interview but the driver had told him, without prompting: “I couldnae make the turn.”, a reference, he took, to be to the sharp corner into the bridge at Wiston where the crash occurred.

The rest of the afternoon’s evidence was largely taken up by the testimony of retained firefighter Craig Whitefield.

He told that, while at the bank of the burn helping search the crashed coach, he heard an injured Raymond Munro, who was still lying nearby, saying repeatedly: “I telt them that we shouldnae have went.”

The Inquiry had earlier heard that Munro had claimed he’d advised teachers in charge of the trip to postpone because of the waether – a claim the three teachers all denied.

He told of the recovery of Natasha’s body, saying that it’s position had led firefighters at the scene to conclude she had been thrown from the coach during the tumble off the bridge and into the burn. The Inquiry had earlier heard that Natasha was one of the nine pupils of the 39 on board not wearig their seatbelt when the accident occurred.

The Inquiry continues.