A YOUNG driver was killed after his vehicle was involved in a horrific collision with a school bus at a notorious crossroads.
Terrified children from Rhyddings Business and Enterprise School, Oswaldtwistle, fled to a nearby pub.
Robert Jamieson, 20, of King's Mead, Knuzden Brook, was driving along Haslingden Old Road, Oswaldtwistle, when he collided with the bus at the Britannia junction.
His white Peugeot 106 burst into flames and he was bravely pulled from the burning vehicle by bus driver Fernando Page, 46, of Nelson and several passers-by.
But he later died from his injuries in Blackburn Royal Infirmary.
Meanwhile, the 25 schoolchildren, aged between 11 and 16, scrambled out of the bus's emergency exit and sprinted to take refuge in the Britannia.
Eleven were taken to Blackburn Royal Infirmary, four by ambulance and seven by their parents, with whiplash and minor injuries.
Pub manager Graham Ferguson said: "When I looked out of the window I could see the car was on fire.
"I rang all the emergency services and the children called their parents from the pub."
Rhyddings deputy head Paul Trickett said: "It happened while the children were on their way home.
"Our assistant headteacher Trevor Ainsworth immediately went out to the Britannia to help.
"The manager of the pub was brilliant and we are indebted to him. He took the children in and made them comfortable until parents could come and pick them up."
Mr Ainsworth said the children had all been offered counselling to help them come to terms with the tragedy.
He added: "Mr Jamieson was also a former pupil of this school. Most of the staff knew him and he was a nice lad."
Leading Firefighter George Mulvaney said: "We arrived on the scene at around 3.30pm last Thursday and the car was well ablaze.
"We managed to extinguish the flames with difficulty because the vehicle's petrol tank had ruptured."
Sergeant Keith Jackson of Accrington's Road Policing Unit said Mr Jamieson's car was travelling along Haslingden Road towards Blackburn when it collided with the bus coming in the opposite direction as the bus turned right into Lottice Lane.
A spokesman for Lancashire County Council, on behalf of bus operators Accrington Transport, said: "The driver, who was on the service between the school and Belthorn, knows the route extremely well.
"He was quick to react to pull the driver from the car, suffering minor burns in the process.
"He also ensured the passengers were safe and we praise his responsible efforts.
"Our thoughts go out to the deceased driver's family after such tragic circumstances."
- FURTHER reports about this tragedy can be found on page 8 of this week's Accrington Observer.