Chip shop wrecked in bus crash unlikely to reopen before Christmas

The owner of a popular Black Country chip shop hit by a double-decker bus fears she won't be able to reopen until after Christmas.

Sofi Hickinbottom has spoken of her shock and sadness at the damage caused to her shop
Sofi Hickinbottom has spoken of her shock and sadness at the damage caused to her shop

Sofi's Plaice was wrecked when the bus lost control and crashed into the front of the shop on Castle Street, Dudley , at around 6am last Wednesday. For 77-year-old Sofi Hickinbottom, the sudden closure of her business has been hard to take, coming after the death of her husband Philip from Covid-19 in 2020 and a robbery at their home earlier in the year.

She said: "I am still in shock at the moment and very sad about what happened as everything in the shop is damaged from the range to the windows.

"We still don't know how much it will cost to repair the damage and we've had two sets of people in for the insurance, one for the building and the other for the contents of the building.

"We can't use the building until we can begin repairs, which means we will likely be closed until after Christmas, which is so hard as it is our living and that of our staff as well."

The crash damaged the frontage of the takeaway, with the windows and front door smashed, leaving glass and wooden beams strewn across the floor, as well as damaging the fryer and other cooking equipment.

A gas main was also ruptured, leading to the evacuation of people from properties around the shop as a precaution, and the building has been boarded up since the crash.

Ms Hickinbottom said she hadn't heard from National Express, although she said it was a matter her daughter Stallo Minas was dealing with.

She did say that despite the sadness and shock she feels, she has been cheered by the response from the community and from her customers.

The bus after it crashed into Sophie's Place, Dudley. Photo: West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service

She said: "I have been sent so many wonderful messages by people who love the shop and, when they heard about what had happened, they messaged me straight away to ask if I was ok as they were very concerned about me.

"I would like to say thank you to all of them for the kindness they have shown as we have been here for 33 years and people have been coming to us for all that time.

"I'm looking forward to the day we can reopen and see all my old customers come in and I think we'll have a grand reopening."

A National Express West Midlands spokesperson said: "We are sorry for any distress caused to Ms Hickinbottom. National Express West Midlands has been in regular contact with the family and with the relevant authorities while we carry out a full investigation into what happened."

Sofi Hickinbottom thanked her loyal customers for their support after the bus crash

Paramedics assessed four patients, two women and two men. All sustained minor injuries and were discharged.

Speaking after the crash, one of the passengers, Debbie Clarke, recalled being on the double-decker when it started to move out wide as it rounded the corner.

"I then saw the chip shop getting closer and closer and then felt the impact as the bus hit the wall, as well as smelling gas straight away.

The bus soon after it crashed in Fisher Street, Dudley. Photo: Tarja Williams

"Myself and another passenger helped to get the driver out of his little cubicle and off the bus and he was a little delusional and shocked as you could imagine. We got him out of the way and someone called the emergency services."

Ms Clarke, 45, who works as a care assistant at Linden Hall in West Bromwich, said she had a bit of pain in her knee and ankle and was one of four people checked by ambulance crews at the scene.

She said the accident was something she had seen coming due to the amount of rain that had fallen.

The aftermath of the crash in Castle Street

She said: "It's no fault of the driver, but I know what the roads around here are like when its's wet as the roads are very slippery to walk on, let along drive on.

"The driver is very shaken up, but he was well taken care of by the ambulance crews and I think they did everything they could to make sure everyone was fine, particularly the people who live above the chip shop."

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