A group of young primary school children have been left with ‘life-changing’ injuries after a horrifying bus crash.
There were 45 pupils on the bus when it was reportedly hit from behind by a truck and rolled over in Melbourne, Australia yesterday afternoon.
Emergency services and bystanders rushed to the scene to help and 21 children, aged five to 11, were taken to hospital with many requiring immediate surgery.
Seven students remain in hospital today – including one in intensive care – and the driver of the truck has been charged with four counts of dangerous driving causing serious injury.
Victoria Police superintendent Michael Cruse said more charges were also likely and that some of the injuries suffered are ‘really very traumatic’.
Warning: This article contains details of the incident some people may find distressing.
The bus had only just left Exford Primary School, in western Melbourne, to return to a nearby school after an athletics event when the shocking crash happened.
Police said the truck hit the rear of the school bus and caused it to overturn at an intersection in the semi-rural community of Eynesbury.
Principal Lisa Campo drove the short distance from the school to the crash site and was among those who helped the children, including six who were trapped in the wreckage.
She said: ‘I didn’t know what I was going to see. I honestly thought I’d just be there comforting some distressed kids who had been in a minor collision.
‘I didn’t ever expect to see that and hope I never see that again.’
Emergency fire crews entered the bus through a skylight in its roof, and the smashed-out windshield was used as the main emergency exit to free the students.
Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne chief executive Bernadette McDonald confirmed the catastrophic nature of the injuries some of the children sustained.
She said: ‘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.
‘Three patients are being monitored carefully in terms of spinal injuries.’
Ms McDonald confirmed at least one child lost an entire arm but did not elaborate on how many of the injured had partial amputations.
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.’
Paramedics assessed dazed victims who did not appear to need to be taken to hospital in the grass surrounding the crash site.
The bus driver was taken to a hospital with minor injuries but was not admitted, while the driver of the truck, who is due to appear via video link at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court today, was not injured.
Supt Cruse paid tribute to passers-by and the injured bus driver who helped children from the bus.
He said: ‘It’s a really confronting scene. Some of the injuries are really very traumatic and that would be a difficult scene for a passer-by to come across, and then to have acted the way they did is really admirable.
Mr Cruse confirmed that ‘speed will be considered as well as part of the investigation’ into the incident.
At the weekend, at least 26 people, including a baby and children, were killed after a minibus burst into flames in a devastating crash with a lorry in Mexico.
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