Friends and neighbours have paid tribute to a 63-year-old grandmother from West Yorkshire who was killed in a coach crash on the M11 in Essex.
Mum-of-four Delia Walker, of Central Avenue, Fitzwilliam, Pontefract, is believed to have been sleeping on the back seat of the bus when it was hit from behind by a lorry in the early hours of Saturday.
The coach, from Ross Travel Group in Featherstone, was taking 49 passengers from the Castleford and Wakefield areas on a day-long shopping trip in Adinkerke, Belgium, when the crash happened just before 2.30am.
The driver had pulled onto the hard shoulder of the M11, near junction nine for Saffron Walden, when it was hit by a lorry driven by Zdzislaw Piorko, 53, of Maidstone, Kent, who also died.
Six other passengers on the coach, which was heading towards the Channel Tunnel at Folkestone, were seriously hurt, with the remaining 42 passengers suffering minor injuries.
A neighbour of Mrs Walker, Charles Fletcher, 45, told the YEP: “She was a lovely, polite, friendly lady and very popular within the community. It’s a massive shock and she’ll be greatly missed.
“We’ve heard that Delia moved to the back of the bus because the seats were empty and she wanted to lie down and sleep. Her daughter Julie, who she travelled with, stayed nearer the front and got away with cuts and bruises.
“We knew her quite well. She’d look after our house if we were away, put the bins out and that kind of thing, and we’d do the same for her. It’s really sad.”
Neighbour Ben Midgley, 26, added: “I thought it was a wind up when I heard about it. I couldn’t believe it. I used to speak to her quite a lot and she was so nice.”
Mr Fletcher said Mrs Walker, who was known affectionately as Dee Dee, was widowed and had three grown-up daughters, one son and at least one grandchild.
She was retired, although it is believed she had been employed by Pioneer Technology UK in Castleford in the past.
Mrs Walker’s Facebook page states that she likes the films Toy Story and Shrek and the TV programmes Come Dine With Me and I’m A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!. Her online profile also states that she likes the X Factor, Marmite, Skittles and Oreos.
Mrs Walker was freed from the coach by firefighters from Essex and Cambridgeshire but was pronounced dead at the scene.
The casualties were taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow and Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford. Another coach from Ross Travel Group brought the remaining passengers back to West Yorkshire.
According to Simon Posner, spokesman for the Confederation of Passenger Transport, the coach driver had pulled into the hard shoulder with the hazard lights on because he felt the bus was going to break down. It was hit by the lorry, which was carrying carrots, less than 30 seconds later.
Mr Posner said the coach was only two years old and described the driver as “very experienced”.
Essex Police are now investigating the cause of the crash.