Quick-thinking residents of a Northampton street have been hailed as heroes after they helped pull children out of a minibus that had crashed into a tree.
Four children had to be taken to hospital after the vehicle, on its way to Northgate School Arts College, crashed yards away from homes in Cowley Close, Wootton, at around 8am on Tuesday morning.
One of the adult escorts on the bus suffered a broken leg but the condition of the driver, who was found unconscious at the wheel, is not yet known.
Northgate School staff have praised the actions of Cowley Close residents, who immediately rushed to help children out of the stricken bus as it began to catch fire.
Among them, Wilko’s worker Donna Edwards, 45, said she went into ‘autopilot’ when she heard the collision metres from her front door.
Describing the moment, she said: “I turned around with a coffee in my hand and I just ran - I still had my pyjamas on. The driver’s door was a bit bent so I pulled it open. The escort was there and she just said to me ‘get the kids out first’. She had broken her leg but she was so calm.
“The kids were already getting up out of their seats. Around seven or eight people from the street rushed out as well and we just helped them out. It was distressing for them because there was smoke everywhere.”
Three fire engines and several ambulances attended the scene in Cowley Close.
The driver is believed to have suffered a medical episode prior to the crash.
The bus, which was on its morning run to the special educational needs school, had six pupils on it at the time, aged between 10 and 17, none of whom suffered serious injuries.
Headteacher of Northgate School Arts College, Francesca Shears, took flowers around to Cowley Close residents today to thank them for their quick actions.
Handing a bouquet over to mum-of-two Donna, who also allowed the youngsters to wait in her house for their parents to pick them up, the headteacher said; “What you did was really brave. I just want to say thank you.
"Thank you for opening up your home and staying calm and organised, you were brilliant. It would have been a very different situation if it weren’t for you.”
A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “The minibus accident is still being investigated to find out how it happened and we are working with all partners to establish a cause.
“Some of the children attended hospital with minor injuries and have since been released.
“Two adults on board were also taken to hospital – one of these has now been allowed home.”