Tributes paid to coach crash victims

By Gary Smee 29/03 Updated: 29/03 14:12

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Buy photos » Liaquat Ali (right), a passenger on the bus, and Lorry driver William Mapstone (left) died as a result of Saturday’s crash. (s) The workers were on their way to fruit picking company Wellpak in Evesham (above). 1312021NHR3

TRIBUTES have been paid to a fruit picker who died in a horrific coach crash on his way to work in Evesham.

Liaquat Ali, 35, from Smethwick was one of dozens of passengers on the coach travelling to Wellpak based on Millennium Way in Vale Business Park on Saturday morning (March 24) when it broke down in heavy fog on the M5 motorway near junction 3.

A lorry smashed into the back of the stationary coach killing Mr Ali instantly and the lorry driver, 65-year-old William Mapstone from Wells in Somerset, who died later in hospital.

West Midlands Ambulance Service crews treated 40 adults at the scene and 27 were then taken to four different hospitals nearby.

One of the bus passengers, a 28-year-old man from Smethwick, remains in a critical condition with serious head injuries and multiple leg fractures.

Mr Ali's family released a statement which said he would be greatly missed.

"Liaquat was the loving husband of Fozia Shaheen and was the father of two sons and a daughter - Shafqat Ali aged nine, Mohammed Owais Ali aged two and Kashish Eman aged six.

"He will be dearly missed by his family and friends and also leaves behind three brothers."

The coach driver, 49, was arrested and bailed on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and the road was closed for a total of eight hours while officers carried out investigation work.

Family liaison officers are supporting both of the families of the dead men.

A tribute was also released by Mr Mapstone's family.

"Our dad was tragically taken away from us while doing the job he so very much loved," they said.

"We would very much like to thank the people who helped both us and dad through such a tragic time including all the emergency services that attended the scene to help dad on the motorway to try and save him."

An investigation continues to establish the circumstances which led to the collision and is likely to take some time.

Insp Mark Watkins, from the collision investigation unit at West Midlands Police, said: "Enquiries centre on the weather conditions at the time of the collision and how the bus came to be stationary in the carriageway.

"Officers are keen to speak to anyone who saw the bus travelling along the M5 prior to the collision."

The dedicated hotline for concerned relatives which opened in the immediate aftermath of the incident has now closed.

Anyone with information should call the West Midlands Police Collision Investigation Unit on 101.

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Buy photos» Lorry driver William Mapstone died on Saturday evening. (s)

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Buy photos» The workers were on their way to fruit picking company Wellpak in Evesham. Picture by Nick Hands 1312021NHR3

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