A POLICE investigation was underway last night after a man was killed when the stolen car he was travelling in collided with a bus.
Emergency services were called to the busy junction of Parkgate and St Cuthbert’s Way, in Darlington, shortly before 5pm on Saturday (December 21).
The crash involved an Arriva bus and a silver Isuzu Trooper, which had been stolen from nearby Rydal Road, less than 30 minutes before the collision.
One of the passengers in the 4x4 suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police last night said the man has not yet been identified.
A 25-year-old man, who police believe was the driver of the Isuzu Trooper, was arrested at the scene, on suspicion of causing death by careless driving.
He was subsequently further arrested on suspicion of burglary and causing death by dangerous driving.
Another passenger, a 23-year-old man, was taken to the James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough with a broken leg and facial injuries.
The incident caused a section of Darlington’s busy inner ring road to be closed for several hours.
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Chapman, of Durham Police, who is leading the investigation, said: “This is a tragic incident which happened at a very busy time in Darlington on Saturday.
“We are appealing to members of the public to help us establish the events leading up to and immediately following the collision.
“In particular, we would like to hear from anyone who may have seen the silver Isuzu Trooper travelling between Rydal Road and the scene of the accident.”
A number of passengers on the bus were treated at the scene for shock, but were not taken to hospital.
Two fire crews from Darlington and a special rescue unit from Bishop Auckland attended the scene.
Eyewitnesses described the drama, which unfolded at one of the busiest times of year, tea time on the last Saturday before Christmas.
A member of staff in Deano's takeaway, in Tubwell Row, close to the scene, said shortly after the crash: "It's clearly been a major incident. What we have been told by customers is that a Range Rover-type car has hit a bus and the road has been closed to traffic as the fire brigade cut the driver out."
A reveller at the nearby Glittering Star pub, in Stonebridge, said: "There's been a fatality and it's very, very sad, especially at this time of year."
The roundabout has long been one of the busiest junctions in Darlington.
Darlington Borough Council has tabled plans to remodel it in an effort to cut congestion.
Council leader Bill Dixon said: “This junction is badly in need of re-engineering, it is at maximum capacity.
“There is no such thing as rush hour on that stretch of road, as it can snarl up at any time.
“Without wishing to pre-judge this incident, it is not the safest road in the borough.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Durham Police on 101, quoting reference number DHM211220130391.