A COACH crash victim spoke for the first time about his new life last night as the driver of the bus in which he was travelling faced a lengthy prison sentence.

Retired scientist Dr John Dartnell, 69, was pulled badly injured from the carnage of a coach crash in which 26 Britons, including his wife, Margaret, died on a notorious South African mountain pass.

Earlier this month, the driver of a tour bus was convicted of manslaughter.

Titus Philip Dube, 41, admitted he may have stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake pedal.

Dr Dartnell's wife Margaret, 70, of Marton, Middlesbrough, was one of the Britons who died when the driver lost control on Long Tom Pass, in the Drakensberg Mountains, in September 1999.

Last night, the former British Steel metallurgist told The Northern Echo how he had remarried and hoped to put the accident behind him.

He said: "I'm very happy now. I have a wife and want nothing more."

His second wife, Kathy, 74, had been a close friend of Margaret for about 12 years and was asked by the doctor's family to keep an eye on him as he convalesced.

Then love blossomed.

"The family asked me to look after him and I agreed until he could drive again and get his (driving) licence back. Then he asked me to stay. It is just one of those things," said Kathy.

"He was very badly injured. He was in a wheelchair and his mind was not too good. He did not know anyone. I agreed to look after him. He can now walk on crutches.

"He is a great gardener, and I have got him interested in gardening again. Eventually, I am going to get him back into his garden."

Kathy is now nursing her husband back to health from a stroke he suffered a fortnight after their wedding at St Mary's Church, Nunthorpe.

The stroke has left him paralysed down his right side.

It was his right leg which was crushed in the coach crash on Long Tom Pass, which happened when Titus Dube says he accidentally stepped on the accelerator, instead of the brake.

Dube decided to plead guilty following a meeting between his legal team and the state prosecutor on February 23.

The driver, who claimed his brakes had failed, agreed to admit to charges of culpable homicide - the equivalent of manslaughter - after he was confronted with the evidence.

The crash was one of the worst in South Africa's history. Thirty-four British holiday makers, three tour guides and the driver were on the coach belonging to Cape Town operator Springbok Atlas.

Dube will be sentenced on April 2