Coach driver tellsof object on M-way

British Legion coach crash on the M4 motorway, police said last night.

As crash investigators continued to search the scene and examine the

coach, police said driver Stephen Brown, 38, had told them he swerved to

avoid an object on the carriageway.

Mr Brown, a father-of-three, who escaped with minor injuries, told

police about the object during preliminary interviews.

Chief Inspector Jeff Brommage, deputy head of the Traffic Department

of Avon and Somerset Police, declined to describe the object reported by

the coach driver, but said ''one or two'' other witnesses might also

have seen it.

Police will question Mr Brown and the other witnesses in greater

detail at a later stage, but meanwhile they are ''urgently seeking'' the

driver of a blue vehicle close to or possibly in front of the coach

before the accident.

It could be that he, or possibly passengers, witnessed something of

the accident, said Mr Brommage, who appealed for any other witnesses to

contact police.

Preliminary examination by investigators from the Department of

Transport and police had found no faults in the coach's steering,

linkages or tyres, he said.

The tachograph showed the driving was within speed limits and the

driver had passed a breath-test soon after the crash.

In Christchurch, Dorset, flags flew at half-mast as family and friends

of passengers who died when the coach plunged off the motorway and

overturned, waited for news.

Ten of the 20 survivors from the legion group who were returning from

a day's outing to a Cardiff brewery are being treated at hospitals in


Police named six of those who died, including Christchurch married

couples John and Ivy Metcalf, both 86, who had both served in the armed

services during the Second World War; and 70-year-old William Cooper and

his wife Peggy, 66.

The other two were William Davis, 87, also from Christchurch, and

James Walsh, 68, from New Milton, Hampshire.

Two other passengers have been identified but their details would not

be released until today, a police spokesman said. Two more victims had

yet to be formally identified.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have sent a message of sympathy to

the Royal British Legion, saying they were ''shocked to hear of the

tragic accident''.