A BUS driver is said to have blacked out moments before a crash between two school buses in County Durham, it emerged tonight.

Operator Stanley Travel said today (Friday, August 1) that evidence suggested the driver of its single decker vehicle was unconscious at the time of the smash with a Go North-East double-decker, near Stanley, on June 3.

Two drivers and 28 children were taken to hospital after the buses, carrying pupils to Tanfield School and St Bede’s School in Lanchester, respectively, crashed in Shield Row Lane, near the junction of the A693, close to Oxhill Inn.

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A statement released by Stanley Travel director Andrew Scott said: “We are able to confirm that our insurance company has agreed to accept liability following the accident on June 3.

“We are also able to confirm that the driver of our bus blacked out moments before the incident, and the medical evidence strongly suggests the driver was unconscious at the time of collision.

“We hope that a speedy settlement will assist the injured passengers in obtaining any additional help and support they require."

Law firm Irwin Mitchell has been instructed to represent 15 children injured in the crash.

Glen Edney, a specialist injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, representing passengers who were travelling on both buses involved, said: “This was a very serious incident in which a total of 13 ambulances were needed to help treat the schoolchildren.

“Thankfully no one was killed but many have suffered injuries with some suffering more serious injuries.

“It is also vital that we support the injured children with any treatment they need for their injuries and to help them overcome the trauma of the crash.”

The driver of the double-decker, 54-year-old Paul Stephenson, suffered leg and head injuries.