A RADCLIFFE teenager who was killed in a horror motorway crash was a "true fighter with a heart of gold", said his parents.

Joe Cairns, aged 14, was killed in the crash involving a number of other vehicles on the M58 near Skelmersdale on Tuesday morning.

Joe's teacher Anne Kerr, aged 50, from Southport was also killed, while three other children from the Bury area have suffered serious injuries.

The group were passengers on a minibus travelling to Pontville School in Ormskirk when the incident happened.

Joe's mum and dad, Steph and Andy Cairns, have paid tribute to their son in a statement released via Lancashire Police.

They said: "Joe, my brave boy, a true fighter with a heart of gold. An amazing sense of humour and infectious smile, a true superhero.”

Pontville School is a specialist residential and day school for pupils aged five to 19 with special educational needs.

In a statement, the school's headteacher, Justine Sims, said: "We are deeply shocked to learn of the terrible accident that took place yesterday involving a minibus carrying a number of our young people and staff.

"It is with the deepest sadness that we can confirm that one young person and one member of staff on board the minibus have died and the remaining four have been taken to hospital.

"Our thoughts and sympathies are with the families of the deceased at this sad time. Our overriding priority is to provide help and support to classmates, colleagues and families of those involved in the accident as best we can."

Bury Council leader Rishi Shori said: “We are shocked and deeply saddened that one of Bury’s young people has died, and in such terrible circumstances.

“Joseph was a massive character with an infectious smile and a great sense of humour who will be hugely missed.

“We are providing support and counselling to Joseph’s family and our hearts go out to them at this time. We are also supporting the families of the other three Bury children who were injured, and hope they can make a quick recovery.”

The driver of a HGV, a 31-year-old man from Chorley, was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. He has since been released under investigation pending further enquiries.

A second collision took place at around 10:10am in the queuing traffic involving an HGV, a van and two cars. A woman and two men suffered serious injuries. They remain in Aintree Hospital receiving treatment.

Sgt Steve Wignall said: “Our thoughts remain with the families of everyone affected by the tragic incidents yesterday. We have specially trained officers supporting them at this very sad and difficult time.

“We need anyone who saw either of the collisions but hasn’t spoken to us already to come forward. You may have vital information to assist our investigation.”

Anyone with information about either collision can call 101 quoting log number 275 of today (Tuesday, January 8).