Two people who were killed in a major crash on the M4 motorway on Thursday worked at a specialist autism school, it has emerged.
The minibus which was caught up in the collision with a lorry was carrying staff and pupils from Prior’s Court, a charity which runs a residential school in Berkshire for children with autism.
The school has now confirmed that two adult staff members who were travelling in the minibus died at the scene. Three other employees, including the driver, remain in hospital with serious injuries.
Three young adults with severe autism were also taken to hospital as well for assessment but were not seriously injured.
Mike Robinson, the chief executive of Prior’s Court, said everyone at the charity was “devastated” by the news.
“I send my deepest condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the two people who lost their lives.
“At this time, there are three further staff members receiving treatment and my thoughts are very much with them and their families.
“In such tragic circumstances, we are grateful that all the young people involved are safe and without serious injuries, and we will be doing everything we can to safeguard their wellbeing at hospital and upon their return.”
The minibus was returning to Prior’s Court after the three young adults – who all have severe autism – had been taken to a work placement.
Specialist family liaison police officers are working with those caught up in the “terrible and tragic incident”, a statement from Prior’s Court also said.
The crash happened just after midday on Thursday, between junction 14 and junction 13. The road was closed for several hours while Thames Valley Police attended the scene and three helicopters from the South Central Ambulance Service were scrambled to rush the surviving victims to hospital.
The driver of the lorry which collided with the Prior’s Court minibus was also taken to hospital with minor injuries.
One motorist who witnessed the smash, James Lloyd, said it was the “worst accident” he had ever seen. Thames Valley Police are appealing for anyone who saw the collision – and particularly those who have dashcam footage – to contact them by calling 101 and quoting reference number URN 545 (11/10).