‘Her death has created a massive void in our lives’: Heartbroken family pay tribute to 15-year-old girl Jessica Baker who died in horror M53 bus crash that also killed driver – as they reveal teen represented Wales in rock climbing
- Family described Jessica as ‘warm-hearted’ and said she was a ‘devoted sister’
- Her headteacher, Simeon Clarke, said Jessica will be ‘greatly and sadly missed’
The family of a 15-year-old school girl who was killed in a crash on the M53 has paid tribute and revealed that she was a ‘talented climber’ who represented Wales in competitions.
Jessica Baker, who attended West Kirby Grammar School, died when the coach she was on crashed in Hooton, Cheshire, on Friday morning.
In a tribute issued through Merseyside Police, the family of 15-year-old Jessica Baker said: ‘Jessica was a warm-hearted, wonderful daughter, granddaughter and niece, devoted sister and loyal friend.
‘A talented climber, based at the Boardroom Climbing centre academy where she helped coach younger climbers and competed around the country inspiring others.
‘At the age of 15, just starting Year 11 at West Kirby Grammar School, where her focus was not just on academic work but also sports, representing the school at many events.
Jessica Baker (pictured), who attended West Kirby Grammar School, died when the coach she was on crashed in Hooton, Cheshire, on Friday morning
‘Her untimely death has led to a massive void in our lives that will never be filled.
‘She will be missed by many, from not only school but also the climbing community across the country.’
Jessica’s headteacher has also paid tribute to the student and said she represented Wales in national climbing competitions.
Simeon Clarke, the headteacher of West Kirby Grammar School, said: ‘Jessica was a dedicated friend who was a well-liked and respected member of our school community.
‘She was an unassuming, polite and conscientious student who exemplified the values of our school.
‘Jessica was also a keen sportswoman, representing her house and the school in numerous competitions, and demonstrating an unwavering love of – and commitment to – rock climbing, where she had previously represented Wales in national competitions.
‘Jessica will be greatly and sadly missed by her friends, teammates, classmates, and all at West Kirby Grammar School who had the pleasure and privilege to encounter her.’
Stephen Shrimpton, 40, was driving the coach of more than 50 students when it crashed with a car and flipped onto its side at 8.30am.
Launching a GoFundMe to pay for his funeral, Mr Shrimpton’s sister-in-law Emily Church claimed that the father-of-two had suffered a medical issue while driving.
In a tribute issued yesterday, Stephen’s family said: ‘Stephen sadly passed away in a traffic accident. 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.
‘He’s sadly left behind my sister who’s now a widow in her early thirties, and unfortunately a single mum alongside his much loved two young children, only 8 and 4, who are going to grow up without their beloved father’.
The incident, which also left a 14-year-old boy with life-changing injuries, saw terrified children climbing out of the windows of the stricken vehicle as they escaped the wreckage.
Stephen Shrimpton, 40, (pictured) was driving the coach of more than 50 students when it crashed with a car and flipped onto its side at 8.30am
The coach was carrying pupils from West Kirby all-girls grammar and Calday Grange all-boys grammar school in Merseyside
Emergency services were called on Friday after reports of an overturned coach on the northbound M53 near to junction 5 at Hooton, Cheshire
Pupils caught up in the chaos wept as they told emergency workers how they thought they were going to die, while traumatised witnesses described seeing children on the floor outside the bus.
The coach was carrying pupils from West Kirby all-girls grammar and Calday Grange all-boys grammar school in Merseyside.
Merseyside Police said 58 people were involved in the incident. Four people were taken to hospital immediately. Two were rushed to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and while two others, including the teenage boy, were taken to Arrowe Park Hospital in Birkenhead.
The other 52 people involved attended the emergency services training centre, with 13 being treated for minor injuries and the other 39 being discharged.
A paramedic who rushed to the scene claimed he had come across one girl who was weeping in the aftermath, who said the crash was ‘very scary’ and hauntingly claimed ‘I thought I was going to die’.
He told MailOnline: ‘She was crying her eyes out. She was in shock and said it was horrible and very scary. I think some of the older kids helped her out.
‘She said she thought she was going to die in the bus.’
He added: ‘The bus was a mess. The children were in shock. It’s going to take a long time for them to get over, what they’ve seen.’
Post-mortem examinations will be carried out next week to establish the causes of death, police said.
The force is appealing for witnesses and dashcam footage from drivers near the incident.
Anyone with information about the crash should call the Matrix Serious Collision Investigation Unit on (0151) 777 5747, or [email protected], or contact @MerPolCC on Twitter, or the Merseyside Police Contact Centre on Facebook quoting reference 23000944471.
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