JOHN Vipond and his wife Ruth have described how a coach flashed past their sitting room window before ploughing into a nearby house with an almighty crash.

Mr Vipond, 89, who still lives on Crawleyside Bank, above Stanhope, said: “I can still remember it clearly.

“We were sitting down to have our dinner when I heard what sounded like an aeroplane coming in to land, It was a horrible noise.

“When I looked out of the window I saw a bus coming past at a terrific speed. I was a wagon driver and I knew he wouldn’t make it.

“I then heard an almighty crash. We left our dinners and went out.”

The bus had careered through five front gardens and their stone walls, until it finally embedded itself in a house wall just beyond the then Campbell Arms.

Mr Vipond said: “The bus seemed to have split and was on its side. There were people lying all over. It was terrible.”

Mrs Vipond, 85, who had just come in after arriving home in her car, said: “It came down and passed the pub went into a house. There was the little girl (the bus driver’s 12-year-old daughter Linda Watts). They carried her into Bill Harrison’s house where they laid her on the settee.”

She died almost immediately.

Mrs Vipond added: “The people who got out of the bus were in a daze. They didn’t know where they were. They were wondering about.”

Mr Vipond said: “Someone asked me to take people away in wagon, but police were quickly on the scene and said no they should go to hospital by ambulance.

“Everyone came out of their homes to help. But there was nothing we could do. It was dreadful. Dr Alan Liddle came up from his surgery in Stanhope and went to help those that he could. It was the worst do I have ever seen.”