Vigil Held For M62 Crash Victim

29 April 2013, 08:42 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

A vigil's been held to remember an 18-year-old who died in a horrific motorway crash near Pontefract.

Student nurse Bethany Jones, was killed and 20 other women were hurt when their bus collided with a lorry on the M62 on Friday.

They were travelling from the small former mining town of South Elmsall to Liverpool for a hen night to celebrate the forthcoming wedding of Stefanie Firth.

Miss Firth, who's 24, remains in Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) along with six other women injured in the crash, one in intensive care.

She is said to have serious spinal injuries as well as a ruptured spleen.

Her fiance - Gary Leafe - is said to be maintaining a vigil at her bedside.

His mother, Lesley Leafe, is also reported to be among the seriously injured still at the LGI.

An eighth woman is in hospital in Middlesbrough. 

Last night, dozens of people gathered in the centre of South Elmsall to remember Miss Jones.

Her friend, Hannah Bell said,
"We put some candles here for Beth and then we went up to the church further up the road and laid our flowers, tributes that we'd all written and more candles and then we all said prayers for her.

It's just something she would have wanted.

If it had been any of us she would have done exactly the same.''

Bethany Billington said:
"We didn't believe it. We couldn't believe it was Beth. And then, when we did, it was pure devastation. It was awful.''

In a statement issued at the weekend, Miss Jones's family said:
"Beth was a fun and bubbly girl who was caring and considerate to everyone she met.

She was the apple of her grandad's eye and she will never be forgotten and sadly missed by everyone.''

The crash happened at about 11.30am on Friday soon after the hen party set off from South Elmsall.

The driver of the lorry was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and has been released on bail.

The collision, near the exit slip road at junction 32 westbound, left the minibus on its side across a carriageway and luggage strewn across the motorway.

Firefighters called the crash "the worst they had seen in a number of years'', and six air ambulances were called to the scene.

Now friends of those who were injured have launched an appeal to raise money for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance - which was not actually one of those which attended the incident due to maintenance.

One of the web pages devoted to the appeal says:
"We are two 10-year-old girls from South Elmsall.

We have decided to do a five-mile fun run to raise funds for Yorkshire Air Ambulance after it gave much-needed help and support to 21 ladies from our village who were injured in a crash on the M62 on their way to a hen party.

An 18-year-old girl from the end of my street was killed. So please give as much or as little as you can afford - every penny helps.''

One of the first at the scene to help was off-duty firefighter John Nichol, who was passing in his father's car.
"I got out to see if I could help, and realised there was only me back there.

First I saw a lady at the back of the minibus and realised her leg was severely broken.

Then I put my head through the roof and just was a mass of bodies.''

South Elmsall town councillor Steve Tully, who knows many of those still being treated in the LGI, said the area was reeling from what he called the worst 72 hours of his life.