London: A 77-year-old Indian-origin former mayor of a town was reportedly driving the double-decker bus which crashed into a supermarket in England’s Coventry city, killing two persons including an eight-year-old boy.
Kailash Chander is said to have lost control and driven on to the pavement before hitting at least four lampposts and crashing into the city centre store on Saturday.
Chander, a father of two and former Labour councillor and former town Mayor of Leamington Spa in Warwickshire county, had worked with Stagecoach Midlands for 42 years.
The company is yet to officially release his name but Chander has been named in some UK media reports as the man behind the wheel of the packed bus, which resulted in the death of seven-year-old Rowan Fitzgerald and Dora Hancox, in her 70s, on Saturday.
The company Stagecoach said, “No driver we employ is allowed behind the wheel of our buses without us being satisfied that they are fully qualified, safe and meet all necessary legal requirements. In this case, our driver has many years’ of experience and has also passed a mandatory annual medical.”
Rowan, a pupil at St Anthony’s Catholic primary school in Leamington Spa, was travelling on the top deck of the bus with his nine-year-old cousin who has also sustained injuries. Six others including the bus driver were also injured.
A spokesperson for the primary school said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those affected by the tragedy which happened in Coventry on Saturday night.”
Hancox, of Nuneaton, was a pedestrian in Trinity Street when the bus crashed into the supermarket.
Her daughter left flowers where she died with a note reading, “To Mum. R.I.P. you did not deserve to die like this, from Trina & Family xx.”
“The families of Rowan and Dora have suffered a devastating loss. Like people the length and breadth of Britain, we extend our deepest sympathies to them during this time,” Inspector Paul Bennett of West Midlands Police said.
The bus collided with stationary cars before hitting the Sainsbury’s store. The cause is being ascertained.
Witnesses described how the bus driver frantically honked his horn in an apparent attempt to warn people just seconds before the crash. Shoppers watched in horror as the bus then careered for 100 metres before it mounted a kerb, hit a lamppost and smashed into Sainsbury’s in Coventry city centre.
“Investigations are ongoing but we are aware of a number of vital witnesses who we are yet to speak to. We know there were possibly hundreds of people at the crash scene on Saturday evening and I would urge these people to come forward as soon as possible and give statements,” Bennett added.
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