Elderly woman killed as bus crashes into bank


An elderly woman has died after a bus crashed into a bank.

The 52-year-old male driver of the vehicle has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, Durham Police said.

The woman was killed when the 50-seater Arriva bus crashed into a branch of the Halifax in Northgate in Darlington town centre.

Two other people were injured.

Chief Inspector Graham Milne, of Durham Police, said: "Obviously this is a tragic incident and I would like to extend my condolences to the deceased's family."

The two pedestrians who were hurt have been taken to hospital but their injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.

Janet Langan, a retired civil servant, who lives in Branksome, on the edge of Darlington, came out of the Queen Street Shopping Centre just after the crash happened.

"The driver's side of the bus was inside the bank. People were being sick and people were crying and I saw a man under the wheels. Then they started to put the green screen up so I couldn't see," the 64-year-old said.

"The emergency services were there very quickly so I started to walk away because I didn't want to look.

"That turning is just a death-trap. It's the second time this has happened. About 18 months ago a bus went skew-whiff at the sharp turn by Boots and Halifax, but not like this.

"I use that bus - the number 2 - every day. The only reason I wasn't outside the bank is because I went to buy a tin of paint. That's what has stunned me more than anything - that I would have been there.

"I just stood with my mouth open and couldn't believe it."

Arriva North East said the bus was Service 2 from Branksome to Red Hall.

The firm issued a statement: "An investigation has been launched and we are co-operating fully with the emergency services and the police, who are leading the investigation.

"Our thoughts are with the families of those involved. We know there will be people concerned about family or friends, and to support them we have set up a dedicated emergency telephone number which is 0191 520 4165."

The road closure is still in place from St Cuthbert's Way roundabout to Crown Street, and there is a pedestrian cordon from M&S to the pedestrian zone at the top of Crown Street. Diversions are set to be in place for some time.

John Dodsworth, who arrived at the scene just after the crash, said: "It's all gone crazy in town. Someone said a lady was under the bus, that's why the cover is round the side of the bus."

A witness at the scene told the Northern Echo: "The number 2 bus was parked up on the side of the road and pulled out before going straight into the bank.

"It was absolutely shocking. I'm still shaking now.

"I don't know if anyone in the bank was hurt. Most of them were out and were taken into Boots."