Seven children remain hospitalised after suffering serious injuries – some described as life-altering – when a truck smashed into a school bus carrying as many as 45 pupils on the outskirts of Australia’s Melbourne city.
Hospital staff said some children sustained head injuries, arm amputations and suspected spinal injuries from the impact of the dump truck, which rammed the school bus from the rear causing it to turn over on Tuesday afternoon in a semi-rural community west of Melbourne.
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Six children were reported as initially trapped in the wrecked bus, the Country Fire Authority said, and emergency crews had to enter the stricken vehicle through a skylight in its roof, and then the smashed-out windshield was used as the main emergency exit.
A total of 21 children were initially taken by ambulance from the scene of the crash for medical care and seven remain in hospital.
The 49-year-old truck driver, identified by local media as Jamie Gleeson, was granted bail on Wednesday afternoon after appearing in court to face four counts of dangerous driving causing serious injury, Australia’s 9News reported.
“Speed will be considered as well as part of the investigation,” Police Superintendent Michael Cruse said on Tuesday.
Several children have suffered life-altering injuries after a truck slammed into their school bus at Eynesbury in Melbourne's west. https://t.co/4CMSf8OEUT @SaraJones_7 #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/mN5uPQn5yo
— 7NEWS Melbourne (@7NewsMelbourne) May 17, 2023
At the time of the crash, the children were returning to school after competing in an athletics event.
Cruse paid tribute to passersby and the injured driver of the school bus who helped children from the vehicle.
One of the children is in intensive care, Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne CEO Bernadette McDonald said, noting they range in age from five to 11 years old.
“The children have suffered multiple and traumatic injuries including partial and complete amputations of arms, multiple crushing injuries, severe lacerations of the head and body, head injuries, glass shard injuries and three patients are … being monitored carefully in terms of spinal injuries,” McDonald told reporters.
She also said the hospital was assisting some extremely traumatised families, adding, “We’re working extremely hard to provide that trauma support and care that they will need, not just now but in the coming weeks and months as well.”
McDonald said one child lost an entire arm but she did not elaborate on how many of the injured had partial amputations.
Police Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Lineham from the Major Collision Investigation Unit said the bus was fitted with seatbelts.
“We don’t know how many of the children were restrained by seatbelts at the time of the collision,” Lineham told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“The scene was quite horrific.”