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Early morning call-out as kids' coach smash drama unfolds

Reporters from the Express and Star in Wolverhampton received an early morning wake-up call after news of a coach crash in France reached the paper.

Reports that a coach carrying schoolchildren from Willenhall in the West Midlands had been involved in an accident saw the newsdesk quickly rallying the troops – and preparing to fly a reporter and photographer to the scene.

A French speaking journalist, Irena Barker, from the paper was able to contact Agence France-Presse and a local paper in the Alps area to get information about where the crash was.

Initial reports suggested the coach had rolled over, but it is now thought that it crashed into a road barrier.

The paper was alerted to the story by an anxious parent.

An early duty reporter was on hand to get the ball rolling, and several other reporters were called in to work, with eight reporters covering the story at one stage.

A reporter and photographer had been booked on a BA flight to the area, but when it became clear that no one had been seriously injured this was cancelled.

The paper devoted pages 1 and 4 to the story.

News editor Damien Pearse said: “We sent reporters to the school and managed to get hold of a parent of one of the children and to speak to the child on their mobile phone.

“By the time the first edition came out we had colour from a freelance journalist, details from a witness and pictures of the school.”

Deputy editor Keith Harrison said: “We had plenty of time to get the story and the pics – that is the beauty of being an authentic evening paper.”

The Birmingham Mail also splashed on the story in its early editions, gleaning information from parents who had gathered at the school.

Deputy editor Carole Cole said: “The feedback we got from parents was that the kids were playing it down and saying they wanted to continue with their holiday.” Do you have a story about the regional press? Ring 0116 227 3122/3121, or e-mail pastill@nep.co.uk