AN 11-YEAR-OLD schoolgirl was seriously injured when she fell out of a moving school bus.
Police and vehicle examiners are trying to solve the mystery of how Gemma Wilkes fell through the emergency exit as the bus turned sharp left.
Gemma's mum, Jackie, told her father a bus seat lay in the road.
An examination of the bus is being carried out by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency. The rest of the fleet has been checked for faults but found to be fine.
Gemma was on her way from Cheshire Oaks High to her home on Osier Close, Elton, when the incident happened.
Gemma is beginning to improve after an emergency operation. Her grandfather, Thomas Gleaves, said: 'She is responding to treatment and we are very pleased about that.'
Mr Gleaves said his daughter Jackie had been called on her mobile by a pupil on the bus and drove to the scene from Tesco in Helsby, where she works, to accompany her daughter in the ambulance. He said she saw a bus seat lying on the ground.
He praised medical staff at Alder Hey, children's hospital who had to drill a hole in Gemma's skull and rush her back into theatre when she developed a blood clot. She has now been taken out of intensive care and is recovering in the high dependency unit.
'They have now taken her off the ventilator and let her breathe for herself,' he said.
'She's recognised us and is talking to us. She's lifting her legs and arms. We've got to wait now. It's a question of time.'
Mr Gleaves, a retired Shell worker from Runcorn, added: 'She's a fabulous kid. I'm not just saying it because she's my granddaughter.
'She would do anything for anybody. You've only got to ask her once.'
Mr Gleaves said Gemma had asked why she was in hospital but the family had only told her the briefest of details.
He said Gemma's mum, step-dad Gary father Paul Wilkes and his wife Helen had been holding Gemma's hand and singing to her.
Gemma has a sister Becky, 14, and a half-sister Molly, six.