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School bus driver injured in crash

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A school bus crashed into several parked vehicles in Chapel Road, Flat Bush, on Wednesday afternoon. Times photos Chris Harrowell

The driver of a school bus that crashed into several parked cars in east Auckland received head injuries in the incident, according to eyewitnesses.

Police were alerted to the crash, which happened at the block of shops opposite Barry Curtis Skatepark in Chapel Road, Flat Bush, at about 3.50pm on Wednesday.

Traffic diversions were put in place near the scene.

The Murphy Buses school bus crashed into multiple vehicles parked outside the shops.

Another vehicle was shunted onto the footpath and came to a stop outside a beauty salon.

Three other cars were pushed into each other.

The bus shunted several parked vehicles into each other.

A worker at the block of shops says the impact of the bus crashing into the parked vehicles was like a bomb going off.

The owner of one of the damaged vehicles, a Toyota Rumion, had just entered Chapel Park Dental when he heard what he describes as a “massive crunch”.

The man, who doesn’t want to be identified, says he walked back out of the dentist and saw what had happened.

“The bus driver was hunched over the steering wheel and the kids on the bus were trying to get out,” he says.

“I jumped over the bonnet of my car to try to force the bus’s door open to get them out.”

The eyewitness says he then saw fuel leaking from the bus onto the ground.

He helped to get the school pupils off the bus and turned his attention to the driver.

“He was bleeding from his head and [appeared to be] unconscious,” he says.

“I tried to get him to wake up. He started to stir. A few other people came to help.

“We tried to get him out of the seat but because he was so shocked he kept grabbing the steering wheel.

“We talked to him but he wasn’t responding.

“We touched him to try to move him but he kept gripping the wheel and wouldn’t move.”

Counties Manukau Police and St John Ambulance responded to the incident in Chapel Road.

Emergency services then arrived at the scene and the eyewitness and other helpers left the bus.

He says the school pupils who had been on the bus appeared to be shaken but uninjured.

He feels a “bit gutted” about the damage to his vehicle.

Dentist Dr Raymond Abel and dental assistant Reshma Sony were at work at Chapel Park Dental when the crash happened.

Abel says he heard a loud noise and thought it was a fire alarm.

It turned out to be the bus’s horn sounding continuously due to the driver leaning onto it.

One vehicle was shunted onto the footpath in front of a business.

Sony says when she went outside she saw the bus driver was bleeding from the forehead.

She says he appeared to be “fainting”.

“We checked if he was okay. We gave him water but he couldn’t drink.

“The children were perfectly fine.”

Howick College principal Iva Ropati confirmed his school’s pupils were on the bus at the time of the crash.

“Some of the students were quite shaken up by the experience but are doing well today,” he says.

“Our counsellors, as a follow-up, were making contact with the students this morning but none reported that they needed any further support.

“We had some initial contact with the bus company yesterday and they confirmed the driver had a ‘medical event’ and is being supported.

“We were extremely pleased with the way our students coped through the ordeal.”

A St John Ambulance spokeswoman says St John was phoned at 3.40pm about the crash.

Two ambulances and one manager responded to the scene.

“St John treated and transported one patient in a serious condition to Middlemore Hospital,” she says.

“One patient was assessed and treated at the scene for moderate injuries and two patients in a minor condition were assessed at the scene.”

Counties Manukau Police said at 7.37pm on Wednesday that Chapel Road had been reopened.

Police had conducted a scene examination and inquiries are ongoing.

Murphy Buses has been contacted for comment.

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