Specialist teams last night recovered a coach that plunged down a steep embankment, leaving one person dead and three critically ill.
Crews from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Staffordshire Police’s Collision Investigation Unit and vehicle examiners from the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) had been working at the scene in Alton, Staffordshire.
Forensic officers have been examining the scene and a senior investigating officer from Staffordshire Police’s Major Investigation Department has been appointed.
The coach, from Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, was carrying 71 farm workers home from a day out at Alton Towers theme park when it crashed in Station Road, near Alton village, shortly before 6pm on Monday.
Police said it collided with two stationary vehicles and smashed through a wall before falling 10 to 15 feet down an embankment.
It eventually came to a stop on its side, in a resident’s garden, where it trapped another vehicle underneath it.
Police said the family of the 26-year-old Polish man who died had been informed and his name would be released after formal identification.
A 21-year-old Polish woman remains in a critical life-threatening condition, while the 63-year-old driver of the coach is in intensive care, in a critical but “not life-threatening” condition. Both are being treated at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.
Five others, two from Poland, one from Latvia and two from Lithuania, remain in stable conditions and are being treated at various hospitals across the county.
Officers said some time had been spent planning a special route to take the wreckage away from the scene, avoiding low bridges.
Chief Inspector John Maddox, from Staffordshire Police, said: “I remain hopeful that I will reopen this road today.”
The workers were from Lutton Farms near Oundle, Northamptonshire.
The farm owners, the Long family, have paid tribute to the Polish man who died in the crash.
A prepared statement read by close family friend Steve Churms, 64, said the family fruit business, which also produces straw, employs overseas students and young people from other countries such as Poland and South Africa for seasonal work.
The statement said: “We work hard to ensure everyone has an enjoyable time while they are our guests, and arrange visits to attractions such as Alton Towers.
“The coach that was involved in the tragic accident yesterday was returning from Alton Towers with a group of our staff after one such day out.
“The Long family knows many of those injured personally, and the young man who was sadly killed had worked on our farm for the last three summers.
“Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones, and also with those others who have been seriously injured.
“We are deeply distressed by the tragic incident and would appreciate being left to help our staff and their families to the best of our ability at this difficult time.”