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Driver of school bus in fatal crash died of natural causes

Stephen Shrimpton died from natural causes, a coroner’s office has said (Family handout/PA) (PA Media)
Stephen Shrimpton died from natural causes, a coroner’s office has said (Family handout/PA) (PA Media)

The driver of a school bus that crashed on a motorway, killing a schoolgirl, died from natural causes, a coroner’s office has said.

Stephen Shrimpton died when the coach he was driving crashed on the northbound M53 in Wirral, Merseyside, on 29 September last year as he was taking children to West Kirby and Calday Grange grammar schools.

Jessica Baker, 15, one of about 50 pupils on board, was killed in the accident just after 8am.

Jessica Baker died after a school coach crashed on the M53 (Merseyside Police/PA) (PA Media)
Jessica Baker died after a school coach crashed on the M53 (Merseyside Police/PA) (PA Media)

On Friday, a spokeswoman for Liverpool Coroner’s Office said Mr Shrimpton’s case had been closed as it was found to be a natural cause of death.

No more details on his cause of death were released.

When the inquest on Mr Shrimpton, 40, was opened in October, senior coroner for Liverpool and Wirral Andre Rebello said CCTV footage showed Mr Shrimpton slump to his left while driving the coach, which left the carriageway and went up an embankment before ending up on its side.

At the time, the coroner said further medical examinations would be needed to establish his cause of death, with focus on the examination of the condition of his heart.

After the crash, Mr Shrimpton’s family said in a statement: “Stephen was a loving husband and father to his wife and his wonderful children, a caring and thoughtful man who would always prioritise others over himself.”

An inquest for Jessica will be held at a later date, with a review hearing scheduled for July, the coroner’s office spokeswoman said.

The inquest opening heard the teenager, from Chester, was partially ejected from the vehicle and suffered instantaneous fatal head injuries.

Four other children were taken to hospital, including a 14-year-old boy whose injuries were said by Merseyside Police to be life-changing.

Others were taken to an emergency training centre, with 13 treated for minor injuries before they were released.

Following her death, Jessica’s family paid tribute to the talented climber, whom they described as a “warm-hearted, wonderful daughter, granddaughter and niece, devoted sister and loyal friend”.

More than £6,500 was raised through an online fundraising site for Climbers Against Cancer in her memory.