44 students travelling to France on the annual Oxford and Cambridge Varsity ski trip were involved in a road accident on the M25 last night.
The coach, which left Oxford late on Friday night, was involved in a head-on collision with a lorry at approximately 2 o’clock on Saturday morning, when the treacherous weather conditions forced the lorry to skid into the opposite lane.
Almost all passengers on the coach suffered cuts and bruising, and several were taken to hospital for further treatment.
This morning all students were said to be in a stable condition, although the driver of the coach was still in hospital with a broken leg and a broken wrist.
The collision occurred at Clacket Lane, near Croydon.
Caspar Eliot, a New College third year, said, “most people were already asleep when it happened. We woke up when there was a huge bang and a jolt. It was very dark, but we could see a lorry pressed up against the left side of the coach.
“Lots of people were bleeding and hurt, but there was a strong smell of diesel so we left everything and got off onto the motorway through the emergency exit.”
Christian Allen, a New College first year, opened the emergency exit for his fellow passengers despite having badly injured his leg. He said, “it was very scary: the lights went off and everything felt like slow motion. I didn’t even notice how hurt I was until we got inside.”
Adam Sriskandan, a third year who received a deep cut to his nose at the point of collision, said, “the worst part was having to jump off the coach when we could see the oncoming traffic coming towards us. It was hard to know whether it could see us and would slow down.”
The crash occurred whilst it was snowing heavily and students were forced to leave the site of the accident for the freezing conditions outside. The students were extremely lucky that the incident happened only a half a mile away from one of the only service stations on the M25. They were marshalled into the station, where they were assessed by ambulance crews and interviewed by police for three hours.
The service station’s hotel provided students with rooms until 10am this morning. They were then transferred to a new coach to continue their journey to Val Thorens in the French Alps.
A number of students expressed their thanks to the coach driver, whose quick braking prevented the accident from being potentially far worse.