More details are emerging about the fatal collision on the M58 in Lancashire which involved seven vehicles, including an HGV and a minibus.
Lancashire Police have confirmed that two separate but related crashes occurred within minutes of each other on the stretch of motorway near Wigan yesterday.
A school teacher from Southport, who worked at Pontville School in Ormskirk, has been confirmed as one of two fatalities.
Anne Kerr, 50, was a passenger in a minibus carrying staff and pupils when it was involved in a collision with a HGV and a number of cars.
A HGV, a school minibus and a number of cars were involved in a collision between westbound junctions 4 (Skelmersdale) and 5 (Bickerstaffe) near Wigan, at around 8.45am.
Two minibus passengers, a 14-year-old boy and a 50-year-old woman, Anne Kerr, were pronounced dead at the scene.
Four other minibus passengers, as well as the occupants of the other car, suffered serious injuries and were taken to hospital.
Firefighters used cutting equipment to rescue two casualties from the vehicles.
The second collision
At around 10.12am, in the resultant queue, a second collision occurred between a HGV, a van and a car.
The HGV in the second collision is believed to belong to Preston-based firm Allied Scaffolding.
A spokesman for Allied Scaffolding said: "We are fully aware of the situation and it is related to our company.
"We are in full cooperation with the police and authorities and will give them our full support."
Three people, two male and one female, sustained serious injuries. One casualty was taken to hospital by the air ambulance and the other two were taken in a road ambulance.
All three remain in a serious condition but their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.
It is understood that the woman is in her 90s and one of the men is in his late 30s.
Fatalities and injuries
Two people have been killed and a number of other people have been seriously injured in the two collisions.
Anne Kerr, who worked as a teacher at Pontville School in Ormskirk, has been confirmed as one of the fatalities.
The 50-year-old, from Southport, was a passenger on board a school minibus carrying staff and pupils.
Anne and a 14-year-old boy were pronounced dead at the scene of the first collision. The identity of the boy has not been confirmed.
Four other passengers in the minibus have also been seriously injured and were taken to hospital. It has not been confirmed whether the injured are staff or pupils.
According to Lancashire Police, Anne and a14-year-old boy "suffered injuries which proved fatal".
Justine Sims, headteacher of Pontville School in Ormskirk, confirmed that a pupil and teacher from the school had died in the crash.
What the school said
In an email sent to parents, Mrs Sims conveyed the terrible news.
She said: "We are deeply shocked to learn of the terrible accident that took place earlier today involving a minibus carrying a number of our young people and staff.
"It is with the deepest sadness that we can confirm that one young person and one member of staff on board the minibus have died and the remaining four have been taken to hospital.
"Our thoughts and sympathies are with all our families at this very sad time.
"Our overriding priority is to provide help and support to classmates, colleagues and families of those involved in the accident as best we can.
"We will be in school tomorrow with additional therapeutic staff to support your son or daughter."
It is believed that a total of eight people have been seriously injured in the two collisions.
The driver of the HGV in the first collision, a 31-year-old-man from Chorley, has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.
Police confirmed he has been released from custody while enquiries continue.
What police and emergency services say
Ch Insp Damian Kitchen of Lancashire Police said that the cause of the first crash had not yet been established but stressed that "driving conditions were fine".
He said: "On arrival it was evident a very serious collision had occurred involving a number of vehicles and a heavy goods vehicle.
"Unfortunately, in this collision, two of the passengers in the minibus, a 14-year-old boy and an adult female were pronounced dead at the scene.
"Their families are being supported by officers at this time.
"A number of other people have received serious injuries and are being cared for in local hospitals.
"Shortly after this, in the result queue, another collision occurred, again involving a heavy goods vehicle and a number of cars.
"As a result of that, three adults, one female and two males, received serious injuries which we do not believed to be life-threatening at this point.
"This is a tragic morning on the M58 and our thoughts are with the families affected and anyone caught up in the incident."
A Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: "Three fire engines from Ormskirk and Wigan attended a road traffic collision on the M58 westbound between junctions 5 and 4.
"The incident involved a heavy goods vehicle, a van and a car and firefighters used cutting equipment to rescue two casualties from vehicles.
"There were a total of five casualties in the collision."
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said: “My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the young boy and woman killed in yesterday’s car crash on the M58, and the others who were injured.
"Thanks to the emergency services for their response, and to the nurses and doctors involved.
“I have spoken with Lancashire County Council and Lancashire Constabulary since the incident who are coordinating support to the families, friends and school involved, as well as investigating the cause of the accident and immediately making the junction safe for motorists.”
Images from the scene showed a lorry carrying scaffolding material and a number of bent and twisted cars.
Other images showed a white van had left the motorway and crashed into a nearby field.
Helen Green Purnell, 48, a pharmacy assistant from Skelmersdale, saw the aftermath of the crash while out walking dogs.
She said: “All I can tell you is I saw the cars slowing down, and as I got there, there was a white van that had fallen down into the ditch.
“It looked very serious. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.
“The air ambulances were flying around. I’ve never witnessed anything like this before.”
Motorist Andy Unsworth, who drove past the site of the first crash about a minute after the collision, described the scene as "carnage".
He reported seeing "tyre burns on the road" and one vehicle "off the road in the ditch".
"It was only as the traffic passed that you could see the other vehicles and the full extent of the accident.
"What presumably used to be some sort of people carrier was crumpled up. Both ends of the vehicle were gone. The scene was carnage.
"It looked like a dozen people or so were standing along damaged vehicles facing different directions on the hard shoulder.
"There was debris everywhere and the scale of it made you instantly know how serious it was."
Anyone with information about either collision should call police on 101 quoting log number 275 of today (Tuesday, January 8).