Tributes paid to coach crash driver

Tributes have been paid to a coach driver who was behind the wheel of a vehicle that crashed on its way back from a music festival, leaving two others dead and 50 injured.

The coach was returning to Merseyside from the Bestival event on the Isle of Wight when it careered off the road and hit a tree near Hindhead, Surrey, just before midnight.

The vehicle was carrying festivalgoers along the A3 in the direction of London when it left the road at a bend between the Hindhead tunnel and the exit for Thursley and hit an oak tree on an embankment.

All 50 survivors from the crash were taken to hospital, many of them with serious injuries, Surrey Police said. No other vehicles were involved and officers are expected to consider whether the coach may have been overloaded as part of their investigation.

Sources said there were believed to be 53 people on board but the vehicle only has 52 seats, including the driver's. The coach driver, named locally as Colin Daulby, was described by his neighbours in Warrington as an "all round good guy".

Tom McLoughlin said: "We're all in shock. This is a close knit street and everyone knew Colin. "I had known him for 20-odd years and spoke to him only the other day. He was a very good neighbour, an all round good guy."

Mr McLoughlin said the coach driver, the father of two adult sons, was often visited by his children and their families. Another neighbour, Ann Parsons, said: "Colin would always come and chat. He wasn't intrusive but friendly and always had a kind word to say. I've only just come home from work and one of the neighbours told me what happened. It's terrible news and his family will be devastated. They are all very close."

Police said the bodies of one man and one woman were removed from the coach in the afternoon. One casualty was airlifted to Southampton General Hospital while others were taken to Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, St Peter's Hospital in Chertsey, St George's Hospital in Tooting, King's College Hospital in London, Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey and Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth.

Some passengers were later taken to a rest centre set up nearby by Waverley Council. Inspector Richard Mallett said it was not believed that road conditions or the weather were a factor in the crash.

Surrey Police said officers had now been in contact with the families of the three people who died in last night's accident. Eleven people remain in hospital, the force added, and an investigation into what caused the 52-seat coach to crash continues.