A headteacher has thanked a “hero” driver whose quick thinking prevented a serious crash involving a bus load of children on their way home from a school trip.

Pupils and teachers from Mowden Junior School, in Darlington, were on their way back from a year six residential trip to an outdoors centre near Doncaster when the bus they were on was involved in a high-speed collision on the A1(M).

Thankfully, there were no serious injuries and the children were shaken but unharmed.

Peter King, headteacher at Mowden School, thanked the bus driver from Barnard Castle-based Hodgsons for his quick thinking.

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He said  “The bus driver was certainly heroic. He just kept going on the hard shoulder.

“No one was hurt and everyone got back safely and people absolutely went the extra mile.”

The Northern Echo: Mowden headteacher Peter King Mowden headteacher Peter King

The bus was just to the south of Wetherby on Friday, June 24, when disaster struck, when a van in the outside lane cut in front of a car in the middle lane. The car moved into the inside lane – where the bus was travelling – and ended up with its side across the front of bus.

Instead of braking sharply, the driver carried on along the hard shoulder and managed to stop without causing the car to roll.

Though no-one was seriously hurt, the windscreen of the double-decker bus was cracked which meant a rescue operation had to be launched to get the children home.

Coach company Hodgsons put out an SOS call to drivers in the vicinity. It was answered by a Mega Bus driver, who had been at Woolley Edge services and one from Stockton-based M&D Travel, who was on his way back from Liverpool with an empty coach.

Mr King added: “I was majorly proud of the staff and of people I had never met before who helped us out. People just really stepped up.

“They were meant to be back at 3pm and I thought it was going to be well into the night but in the end they were back by half past five.”

Mowden parent Neil Sorrie, whose ten-year-old daughter Leah was on the bus, said: “The kids were shaken up but no-one was seriously injured and that’s down to the bus driver.

“It could have been a hell of a lot worse.”

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He added: “Being a bus driver myself and having seen photos of the scene I know if he (the driver) had reacted differently it could have barrel-rolled the car and the people in it would have been killed.

"A lot of people would slam on the brakes but that's not the best thing to do.

“He deserves some credit for that. As a parent of one of the children, I would like to thank the driver and wish him a speedy recovery.”

It is understood the driver suffered minor injuries but has since been able to return to work.

Hodgsons were approached for comment.

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