Drivers stranded for 12 hours as heavy snow hit Cornwall

Drivers were stranded for 12 and a half hours, a bus carrying 30 school children was rescued and hundreds of cars were abandoned on Thursday night as heavy snow hit Cornwall.

Six inches of snow reportedly fell in 45 minutes, causing travel disruption on the A30 and A39 near Bodmin, Cornwall.

A school bus which became stuck on the A39 was rescued by local police and fire brigade crews, who ferried the children to safety in 4x4s.

Steve Instance, 44, from Porthtowan in Cornwall, who was travelling from Poole, in Dorset, became jammed in among other cars as traffic built up on the A30.

Mr Instance, a prevention manager for the RNLI, told the Press Association: “The snow just came down so quick. We just joined the back of the traffic and within a few minutes the traffic built up around me.

“I drive a great big four wheel drive but there was just no way of getting out, just jammed in then.

“The snow kept falling, there was a good six inches of snow within 45 minutes or so.

“Just completely stranded and didn’t move a single inch for nine and a half hours.”

He said he saw a bus carrying schoolchildren that was being assisted by a 4×4.

“I wasn’t in the worst place, I was in a warm car, I am fit and healthy – there were a lot of other people around who needed help a lot more than I did,” he added.

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed a school bus was rescued from the A39, south of the A30.

A spokesman said: “Police were called at around 3.25 pm last night following reports that a school bus… has become stuck on the A39 between Halfway House and Winnards Perch – 4x4s crewed by police and fire officers attended and took the children to a place of safety.”

It is believed 30 children and four adults were on the bus and were taken to Retallack Resort, a hotel and spa resort near the A39.

Barry Nevill, the Cornwall team leader for a local volunteer 4×4 rescue group, was made aware of the school bus incident and said the bus had become stuck in the traffic and “sat there for hours”.

At 7.30 am Friday morning vehicles were seen moving along the A30, but Mr Nevill said the Devon and Cornwall 4×4 Group were still providing assistance to those in need, such as taking carers to hard-to-reach villages.

At 2.30 am Friday morning after being stuck for 11 hours Mr Instance said the first police cars and snow ploughs appeared and began to move cars to allow the road to be cleared.

He added that hundreds of abandoned cars, which were left when people attempted to walk to safety, added to the disruption.

“What became quickly evident, there were at least 100 abandoned vehicles, probably a quarter of those would have been big lorries, they were abandoned all over the place,” he said.

Mr Instance eventually made it home at 4.30 am Friday morning after first getting stranded at 4.30 pm Thursday afternoon.

The same journey would have normally taken him 40 minutes.