The date for an accident inquiry into the fatal bus crash that killed a teenage high school student in March 2010 has been set for the November this year.
Natasha Paton, a 17 year old student from Lanark Grammar School, was killed after a hired bus transporting 39 school pupils and five staff members from the school to the Alton Towers amusement park in west Scotland during a snowstorm in 2010. Paton was the only person killed in the accident, which also left 44 people injured.
Paton was killed after the bus smashed through a bridge railing into a river on the A73 close to the town of Biggar in South Lanarkshire just before 6am on the 31 March 2010. The bus plunged 3.5 meters into the water, and Paton was thrown through a window. The bus then rolled over and crushed her.
Officials have confirmed that the inquiry into the fatal accident will begin at Lanark Sheriff Court. One of the key items on the agenda at the inquiry will be the dubious decision to continue with the bus journey despite what reporters at the time described as ‘horrendous’ weather conditions. It remains to be seen whether the decision to drive through the snow storm was made by the driver, the staff and pupils on the bus or the bus company.
Paton’s parents have made it clear that they are not seeking compensation from any parties regarding the accident, but are eager to find some answers as to why their daughter died. The parents of one of the other children on the bus, one of whom was a driving instructor, have stated that they believe it was negligent of the coach company and the driver to carry school children on a long distance journey in such terrible weather.
Alan Purdie, the owner of the bus company that provided the bus and the driver, denied any negligence on the part of his driver at the time of the incident. Purdie believed that black ice was to blame, and claims that weather reports on the day of the accident belied the severity of the snowstorm.
At the time of the accident, Scotland was experiencing some of the worst blizzards in its history, leaving more than 30 000 homes without electricity and a number of main roads closed to the public due to heavy snow and treacherous driving conditions.
It remains to be seen whether anyone will be found liable for the accident and Paton’s death.