THE principal of one of Devon's biggest schools is recovering in hospital from serious injuries he suffered in a three-car crash.
Tony Alexander, 62, headteacher of Exmouth Community College, is believed to have sustained broken ribs and a punctured lung. He was travelling to Winchester on the A31 at Almer, between Dorchester and Christchurch, when his silver BMW coupe was hit head-on by a Renault Megane. A white Peugeot van then ran into the back of Mr Alexander's vehicle.
He and the 57-year-old male driver of the Megane, who comes from Wimborne in Dorset, were trapped in their vehicles and had to be cut free by Dorset firefighters.
Both casualties were then airlifted by air ambulance to Dorchester County Hospital with Mr Alexander's injuries initially described as serious.
His condition is now described as "stable".
Staff at the community college said they had been shocked to hear what had happened and were keeping in touch with the hospital to monitor Mr Alexander's progress.
His wife has been visiting him and it is not known how long he will be in hospital.
Joint deputy principals David Turner and Graham Allen are carrying out Mr Alexander's duties in his absence from school.
Elizabeth Lee, chairman of the governors, said: "I have spoken to Mr Alexander and he remains cheerful and has been asking about the school.
"His wife had phoned me to break the news of the accident and she is visiting him on a regular basis.
"He is progressing well and in good spirits. We will keep people informed over the next few days of any further news. Mr Allen and Mr Turner will oversee the running of the college until Mr Alexander's return."
Mrs Lee stressed it was "business as usual" at the school.
"We have good systems in place among the senior management team and all the staff send him their best wishes," she said. "We are due to visit him in hospital but, knowing him, he will be itching to get back to school."
A spokesman for Dorset police said the accident happened at 2.45pm last Friday.
Mr Alexander was driving home for the weekend. He stays in Exmouth, due to his work, during weekdays.
The spokesman said: "The two drivers sustained serious injuries and they were cut free from their vehicles by firemen.
"The van driver, from Plymouth, was shocked but otherwise unhurt in the accident."
Police closed the road for three hours and set up diversions while the vehicles' occupants were rescued and wreckage cleared from the highway.
The spokesman said an appeal for witnesses had been made.