TWO boys  on board a school bus that turned over near Hereford today are being hailed as heroes for helping other pupils out.

Police are investigating the crash on Holme Lacy Road today which saw more than 20 people - mainly pupils - injured.

There are witness reports that the bus pulled in for another vehicle which failed to stop.

A spokeswoman for West Mercia Police said: "The police investigation into the circumstances of the motoring collision continues and the involvement of another vehicle is currently being investigated."

Police want to identify a pair of pupils who are said to have smashed open the rear window of the coach to effect an escape route they assisted others through.

Members of the public were also assisting at the scene - including a man who punched out windows to reach pupils - as emergency services arrived.

The first 999 calls just after 8.20am reported the coach having tipped over with "children" screaming inside.

Some of the calls were made by the first pupils out of the bus.

Almost all the pupils - aged between 12-16 and headed for St Mary's RC High School and the Bishop of Hereford's Bluecoat School - were free from the bus as police, fire and ambulance arrived.

The bus was on its side, having fallen several feet from the road.

Rescue teams released the trapped bus driver. She is at Hereford County Hospital being treated for chest and abdominal injuries.

Pupils were assessed for a range of injuries at the scene.

Worcester News:

Emergency services at the scene of the crash this morning. Photo: James Maggs.

Philip Jones, owner of the Burley Gate-based bus company PW Jones Luxury Coaches, said the crash was a “horrendous situation”.

“We have been told there was another vehicle involved which didn’t stop. Obviously the police are dealing with the situation. 

“I would like to state that the coach is in first class condition and there was no problem with the coach or anything like that. The verge actually collapsed when the coach pulled up," he said.

“We are very concerned about the children. I did attend the accident myself and went into the school. We just want the driver to get well. She’s an excellent driver and has never had any accidents throughout all the time she’s been driving with us – around 20 years.”

Hereford County Hospital went into major incident mode as casualties arrived at A&E.

All told, 26 patients from the scene have been discharged over the day.

Another five remain under treatment.

Seven ambulances, a paramedic area support officer, two senior paramedic officers and the Midlands Air Ambulance from Strensham were dispatched to the scene.

Four fire engines - including a specialist rescue unit - were also at the scene.

Worcester News:

The bus, on its side after the crash. Photo: James Maggs.

Six pupils were taken to Hereford County Hospital by ambulance and a further 19 who had suffered a range of minor injuries - such as cuts and bruising - were taken to the same hospital by mini-buses.

Around 20 uninjured pupils were taken back to their school by a second bus - accompanied by a senior paramedic - to be reunited with their parents. 

Sara Catlow, head teacher at the Bishop of Hereford's Bluecoat School, said: “The four pupils affected from the school have all gone home - either via the hospital or having been collected at the scene.

“Our prayers are with the driver and her family but anybody affected by the events will be offered support and counselling.”

Paul Shannon, deputy head teacher at St Mary’s RC High School, thanked parents, emergency services and members of the public who stopped to help pupils get out of the vehicle.