A woman managed to save the lives of coach passengers after grabbing hold of the steering wheel when the driver passed out.

The terrifying crash happened just before 9am on September 4, 2022 when the driver suffered a medical episode on the M25 motorway in Buckinghamshire.

The driver of the Mercedes-Benz coach was taking 25 American exchange students to their accommodation in London.

Marie Gumpert, the student liaison officer, noticed the driver had passed out and was unresponsive.

She quickly took the steering wheel and brought the coach to a safe stop.

The coach veered across three lanes of the motorway before hitting the central reservation and coming to a stop on the hard shoulder near junction 14, but no other vehicles were hit.

The driver sadly died at the scene, despite the efforts of paramedics.

Six passengers on the coach, four women in their late teens and two teenage girls, suffered minor injuries from the windows smashing during the impact with the central reservation, but did not require hospital treatment.

Thames Valley Police’s chief constable awarded Marie for saving their lives.

Chief Constable Jason Hogg presented her with a commendation for her quick thinking to bring the vehicle to a safe stop and avoid hitting any other vehicles in 2022.

“Receiving the chief constable's commendation is an overwhelming honour,” she said.

“This award will forever remind me of the collective strength displayed during such a critical moment as well as the impact we can have when we decide to take action in the face of danger.

“I am deeply humbled to receive this award, grateful for the support of the community, and inspired by the resilience of the passengers.

“I extend my profound gratitude not only for the recognition but even more so for the lives saved that day, made possible with the invaluable assistance of Thames Valley Police during and following the accident.”

Detective Chief Inspector Michael Bettington, head of the Roads Policing Unit, said: “There is no doubt that Marie’s quick thinking, actions and intervention, along with other passengers, directly contributed to the safe conclusion of this awful incident.

“If Marie had not done what she did, I have no doubt in my mind that there would have been multiple casualties or worse. Her actions were selfless and commendable.

“Policing and other emergency services cannot function well without the support of the public.

“I have no doubt Marie protected all those on board from serious harm.

“Thames Valley Police is incredibly grateful for what Marie did and I thank her for her support and for her public service.

“Our thoughts also remain with the driver’s family.”