October 23rd, 2016

Investigations into Coventry city centre bus crash continuing

INVESTIGATIONS are continuing into the Coventry bus crash which killed a Leamington youngster.

Seven-year-old Rowan Fitzgerald was travelling on the top of a double decker bus with his grandparents and eight-year-old cousin when it ploughed into the Sainsbury’s supermarket on the corner of Trinity Street and Hales Street in October last year.

The young girl, who was not named, sustained multiple injuries and was originally fighting for her life but has since recovered.

Five others, including the bus driver – former Leamington mayor Kailash Chander – were taken to University Hospital in Coventry where they received treatment after the crash.

But Rowan, a pupil at St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School in Sydenham, and Nuneaton pensioner Dora Hancox, 76, who was a pedestrian on Trinity Street, both died at the scene.

An investigation was launched following the incident and 77-year-old Mr Chander, who was behind the wheel of the X18 service travelling from Coventry to Leamington, was understood to have assisted police with their inquiries.

This week, officers confirmed work to establish the circumstances behind the crash was continuing almost a year on from the tragedy.

A spokesman for West Midlands Police told the Observer: “It is a large and complex investigation obviously, and while we can confirm investigations are still ongoing, there is very little further we can add.

“We are liasing with the Crown Prosecution Service on the matter and doing everything we can to determine what happened on the day.”

Questions over whether a 77-year-old should have been driving the bus were asked in the wake of the crash.

But Stagecoach Midlands – the company where Mr Chander worked for 42 years – insisted he had completed a mandatory annual medical.

They confirmed no driver was allowed behind the wheel without company bosses being satisfied they were fully qualified, safe and met all the necessary legal requirements.

The bus is understood to have been impounded for further examination but asked this week for the latest, a Stagecoach spokeswoman said she was unable to comment as the matter was subject to a police investigation.

Well-wishers left flowers, teddy bears and cards at the scene following the crash while a book of condolences was also set up inside the supermarket.

Mr Chander’s family released a statement saying: “We want to express our deepest and most sincere condolences to those involved – particularly the families who have lost their loved ones.

“Being a grandfather himself, he is devastated to the core by what has happened. We feel deeply for everyone affected – this is just beyond anyone’s imagination.”

And Rowan’s classmates paid tribute to a much-loved and much-missed friend at his funeral, which was held at St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church.