[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 20 February, 2005, 23:22 GMT
Police to submit coach crash file
Crash scene
The accident happened in heavy snow on a motorway
A police file is being handed to German prosecutors to see if any charges will be brought over Saturday's coach crash in which a British woman died.

The vehicle, carrying 35 people to Austria, overturned in heavy snow between Kaiserslautern and Mannheim.

Coach hostess Rosie Nolan, 57, died and nine other Britons are in hospital, with one man in a critical condition.

UK-based Cantabrica Coaches has defended itself against police claims that the vehicle had balding tyres.

The crash happened at about 0715 local time (0615 GMT) on a downhill Mannheim-bound stretch of motorway.

The Highway Police in Wattenheim had said the coach had "balding" summer tyres and was possibly going too fast.

A police spokesman in Mannheim said: "The file will go to the District Attorney. I'm not sure whether anyone can be prosecuted."

'People screaming'

Trip organiser, Watford-based Cantabrica Coaches, said the two-year-old Volvo coach was "state of the art" and in very good condition with an experienced driver, Steven Gibson, 34, who underwent surgery for a broken leg and hip.

I thought it was just going to be a swerve and then we were going to come to a stop but there was some more cries from the front and then we started tipping over on our side and went right over
Injured passenger Steven Williams

One of the injured, passenger Steven Williams, 52, who suffered broken ribs, said the crash was "pretty horrific".

Speaking from his hospital bed in Ludwighhafen, Mr Williams, from Writtle, Essex, paid tribute to Rosie Nolan who was from Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire.

"I saw someone in the road which must have been Rosie," he said.

"I came with the same company last year and so I knew her. She was really kind, a smashing woman."

Mr Williams told of the moments leading up to the crash.

"I was just dozing when it happened. All of a sudden it started swerving and there was some shouting from the front, people screaming.

"I thought it was just going to be a swerve and then we were going to come to a stop but there was some more cries from the front and then we started tipping over on our side and went right over.

'Moaning and groaning'

"All I remember after that is standing upright and everything was a mess inside and people were all moaning and groaning. It was pretty horrific."

Cantabrica spokesman Simon Posner said: "The company has been operating for 26 years without a serious accident.

"The on-board tachograph would show what speed the vehicle had been travelling.

"It is a modern coach, it has all the safety fittings and it was fully checked before it went."

The company is calling for a full accident investigation to include the standard of road gritting on the motorway.

Mr Posner said the coach driver will be interviewed by German police later this week.

Colin Birch, commercial manager of Cantabrica's ski holiday division Snowcoach, said Rosie Nolan's daughters were being flown to Germany.

'Deepest sympathy'

"She has worked with us for a number of years, summer and winter," he said.

"It is a sad loss and obviously the family have our deepest sympathy."

Some of the uninjured Britons were being taken to their holiday destinations in Mayrhofen and Kirchdorf, Austria, Mr Birch said.

Others were due to fly back to the UK after opting to cancel the ski trip.

The injured were taken to three different hospitals.

A 45-year-old man is critical and an 11-year-old boy suffered a broken jaw. He also sustained minor spinal injuries.

See pictures from the scene of the crash

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific