School bus CCTV captures final moments before M53 crash that killed driver and teen pupil

Jessica Baker, 15, died after her school coach crashed on the M53 motorway in Wirral
-Credit: (Image: No credit)

A school bus driver had complained of chest pains the night before he collapsed at the wheel and caused a crash in which a teenager died, an inquest has heard. The hearing was also told tragic Jessica Baker was one of the few onboard wearing a seatbelt at the time.

Jessica, 15, and Mr Shrimpton, 40, both died when the coach crashed on the northbound slipway of the M53 on the Wirrall, Merseyside at around 8am on Friday, September 29 last year.

The bus went onto the embankment and collided with a large tree before rolling back onto the road and landing on its side on the hard shoulder.

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CCTV taken from the vehicle showed Mr Shrimpton slumping at the wheel moments before the bus veered out of control, the Liverpool Echo reports.

An inquest into Jessica's death today, July 4, heard the 41-year-old bus driver had suffered a serious medical event caused by ischemic heart disease, which occurs when the heart's blood supply is blocked by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries.

Jessica, who was described as "an exceptional young woman" and "an inspiration", was ejected from the bus during the crash, and suffered "catastrophic" head injuries. She was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics at 9.01am, with her cause of death being recorded as a head injury.

Mr Shrimpton, a dad-of-two, was also pronounced dead at the scene, with his cause of death being ischemic heart disease. A post-mortem carried out by Dr Simmons found there was "evidence of coronary heart disease which affected all three main arteries" which could "certainly cause a collapse and sudden death".

The doctor added: "Chest and arm pain, which the deceased apparently described on the evening before the crash, could be signs of heart disease."

-Credit:Merseyside Police/PA Wire
-Credit:Merseyside Police/PA Wire

The coroner said no inquest was held into Mr Shrimpton’s death as it was due to natural causes. The coach was carrying around 50 children from West Kirby Grammar School and Calday Grange Grammar School when it hit the reservation between Junction 5 for New Chester Road and Junction 4, for Brimstage Road

It was initially believed Jessica was not wearing a seatbelt as she travelled from her home in Blacon, Chester, to West Kirby Grammar and after the inquest was opened in October 2023, coroner Andre Rebello issued a prevention of future deaths report regarding the use of seatbelts on school buses.

However, further examination of the bus CCTV footage led investigators to conclude that it was "more likely than not" that the teenager was wearing her seatbelt at the time.

Jessica's parents, nurses Sean Baker and Sarah Merrington, were in court for the hearing. Lawyers for the coach company, Carvers Coaches, and a child who was seriously injured in the collision attended the inquest, along with a lawyer representing Jessica’s family.

Following the hearing at Gerard Majella Courthouse in Liverpool, Senior Coroner Andre Rebello ruled her death was the result of a road traffic collision.

He told Jessica's grieving family: "I have got the statements with regards to how precious (Jessica) was, and that she was dressed for PE that day when she left home, and she was taken to the bus stop. I know she was very much loved.

"I know certainly from the family's involvement with the coroner's officer how much Jessica is missed and how much she is still loved.

"Jessica's life will always overshadow that instant (in which she died) and without love we don't have grief. Fortuitously, love endures beyond death, because your loving relationships with Jessica continues. She is loved as much today as she was last year or the year before."