TRIBUTE has been paid to a schoolboy from Leamington with a “smile to melt any heart” was tragically killed at the weekend after a double decker bus ploughed into a supermarket in Coventry city centre.
Seven-year-old Rowan Fitzgerald was travelling on the top deck with his grandparents and eight-year-old cousin when it smashed into the Sainsbury’s supermarket on the corner of Trinity Street and Hales Street around 6pm on Saturday (October 3).
The young girl, who has not been named, sustained multiple injuries and was originally fighting for her life but is now in a stable condition at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
Five others, including the bus driver – former Leamington mayor Kailash Chander – were taken to University Hospital in Coventry to receive treatment following 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.
Paying tribute, headteacher Jane McSharry, said: “Rowan was a perfect, kind, unassuming, gorgeous little boy with a smile to melt any heart.
“He loved to learn but he loved to play too. The thoughts and prayers of our whole school community are with his family at this tragic time.”
It is not yet known exactly what caused the crash but the bus is understood to have been impounded for further examination.
An investigation has been launched and 77 year-old Mr Chander, who was behind the wheel of the 17.33 X18 service, which was travelling from Coventry to Leamington, is assisting police with their inquiries.
In a statement, his family said: “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.”
Questions over whether a 77-year-old should have been driving the bus have been asked in the wake of the crash.
But Stagecoach Midlands – the company where Mr Chander has worked for 42 years – insisted he had completed a mandatory annual medical.
A spokesman added: “No driver we employ is allowed behind the wheel of our buses without us being satisfied they are fully qualified, safe and meet all necessary legal requirements.”
Well-wishers have been leaving flowers, teddy bears and cards at the scene while a book of condolences has been set up inside the supermarket, which reopened for the first time on Tuesday (October 6).
And police continue to renew their plea for people who were in the area at the time to get in touch.
Insp Paul Bennett, of West Midlands Police, said: “Investigations are ongoing but we are aware of a number of vital witnesses we are yet to speak to. I would ask them to come forward as they may have a vital piece of information nobody else holds.”
“The families of Rowan and Dora have suffered a devastating loss and have asked for the media to respect their privacy as they grieve.
“Like people the length and breadth of Britain though, we extend our deepest sympathies to them during this time.”