THREE people who were killed in a horrific crash on the M4 have been confirmed as staff from an autism school.

The collision between a lorry and the minibus from Prior's Court School in Thatcham took place at around 12.20pm on Thursday, October 11.

The eastbound carriageway of the M4 between junctions 13-14 was closed for more than nine hours, with many motorists describing it as the worst crash they had seen.

Two of the members of staff died at the scene and police confirmed a third fatality 24 hours later.

A police spokesman said: “Sadly, we can confirm that the driver of the minibus, a member of staff from Prior’s Court, who was yesterday taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries, died earlier today."

Three other passengers in the minibus, including the driver were taken to hospital with serious injuries.

The driver of the heavy goods vehicle was also taken to hospital having received minor injuries.

Mike Robinson, chief executive at Prior’s Court, said: “I speak on behalf of us all at Prior’s Court when I say we are devastated about the road traffic collision which happened today.

"I send my deepest condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the two people who lost their lives.

Reading Chronicle:

“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 collision occurred on the way back to Prior’s Court, after the three young adults – who all have severe autism – were being supported to attend a regular work placement session.

Councillor Lynne Doherty, executive member for Children and Young People, said: “It was with deep sadness that we learnt yesterday that two members of staff had lost their lives. On behalf of the Council and all our schools we send our condolences to their families, friends and colleagues.

“Schools are tight-knit communities and I know everyone at Priors Court will be devastated today. Our thoughts are with the whole school community and in particular with the staff and young adults who were injured. We wish them – and the HGV driver injured - speedy recoveries.”

At the time of the collision, there were three young adults from Prior’s Court on the minibus, as well as five Prior’s Court employees.

Inspector Andy Storey of the Road Policing Team said: “At around 12.20pm (12/10) Thames Valley Police and other partner agencies were called to the scene of a serious road traffic collision in West Berkshire.

“The collision occurred on the M4 between junction 14 at Hungerford and Junction 13 at Chieveley and involved a heavy goods vehicle and a minibus with staff and young people on board from Prior’s Court Foundation.

“Tragically, two members of staff died at the scene.

“Two other passengers in the minibus were also taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries where they continue to receive medical care at this time.

“Three further passengers were also taken to hospital. Two of these passengers have since been discharged. The third passenger is still being treated in hospital.

“The driver of the HGV suffered minor injuries and was also taken to hospital but has since been discharged.

“No-one has been arrested at this time. The ongoing investigation will seek to establish what happened in this tragic incident.

“Our thoughts remain with all of those involved in this collision. Specially trained Family Liaison Officers are providing support to the families and we are in regular contact with the school.

“This is an ongoing investigation and we would ask the public not to speculate about the circumstances of this incident.

“Anyone who witnessed the collision or who has dash-cam footage in that area at the time of the incident is asked to contact Police on 101 or via our website. Please quote URN 545 (11/10).”