Leicestershire gets that sinking feeling as floods return
Terrified students ended up wading through water and carrying their friends to safety after their coach became stranded on a flooded road in the dark.
The 35 Brooksby Melton College students screamed with fear as their bus tilted over and began taking on water while in Mountsorrel Lane, Sileby at 5.45pm on Thursday.
They then had to wade through the floodwater to the nearest dry land about 50 feet away – while a handful of students carried other teenagers on their backs.
The drama was one of nearly 100 weather-related incidents dealt with by Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service in 48 hours, after heavy rain on Wednesday and Thursday.
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Students say the driver of the Ausden Clark S624 college charter service had ignored signs that the road was flooded.
But the company, which has suspended the driver, denies there were road closure signs and also disputed the students' claims about the level of water.
Student Sarah Andrews, 17, of Hinckley, said: "The water came up to the bus' windscreen, then there was a bump, the bus tilted over and water started coming in through the door. People were frightened and crying.
"My friend Luke (Jenkins) started taking people off on piggy-back and I helped him. The water was coming up to our belly buttons and was freezing – it took your breath away."
Agricultural student Luke, also 17, said: "The flooding didn't look too bad at first, but after it tilted over water started coming in. I was trying to calm people down, I picked up a few who were fretting and carried them off, some were crying their eyes out. A couple of other lads helped as well."
Student Shannon Stute, of Narborough, said: "The driver went past a sign saying the road was closed. He then steered to avoid a car in the water, and as he did the bus hit a kerb, then it dipped down to the left.
"People started panicking. When we got off the water was up to our stomachs."
"Some of the students started giving piggy-backs to others who were afraid of the water. It took about 20 minutes for everybody to get off."
The students made their way to higher ground near the A6 where some got on a replacement bus and others got lifts with parents.
A spokesman for Ausden Clark said the driver "was met by a stranded car in the centre of the road which was in six inches of water.
"The driver assessed the depth of the water and continued to proceed around the near-side of the car, going onto the kerb to get around.
"As the coach continued along the kerb the ground level dropped, causing the coach to dip forwards and the driver brought the coach to a stop."
He said: "There were no signs advising the road was closed at the Sileby end of the road.
"At no point did the water enter the coach to where the students were, the only water was about six inches at the front stairwell where the coach was at its lowest point. The driver has been suspended pending the investigation."