Melbourne school bus crash: Truck driver’s actions after Eynesbury disaster
New details of the horrific crash between a truck and a bus packed with children have emerged, including the truck driver’s frantic efforts to assist the trapped students moments afterwards.
The school bus was allegedly struck from behind by a truck and flipped on the corner of Exford and Murphys Rd at Eynesbury, 56km from Melbourne about 3.40pm on Tuesday.
On board were 45 children from Exford Primary School, some of whom were left with life-changing injuries – with one student undergoing a ‘complete’ amputation and others losing limbs.
Truck driver and father-of-two Jamie Robert Gleeson, 49, was released on bail on Wednesday after being charged with four counts of dangerous driving causing serious injury.
The court heard on Wednesday how Gleeson told police he saw the ‘sun flicker’ between trees in the moments before the smash. The court was told how Gleeson stopped at the scene after the accident, called triple-0 and began helping pull children from the wreckage.
Daniel Green and Cameron Chalmers were among four tradesmen driving home from a building site when the horrific crash unfolded in front of them.
A court heard on Wednesday how truck driver Jamie Gleeson (pictured) began helping pull children from the wreckage of the bus moments after the crash
The four colleagues helped pull children from the wreckage and held the hands of those trapped inside as they waited for emergency services to arrive.
‘As soon as I ripped open the access hatch, it was just deafening, the screams,’ Mr Green told Sunrise.
‘The screams and cries for help from all the kids. The looks on their faces was horrible. Just pure fear.’
Both tradesmen agreed it was sunny at the time. ‘The sun was coming in at that time of the day but I’m not sure what it looked like,’ Mr Green said.
Mr Chalmers added: ‘The day before I didn’t have my sunglasses and I had put the sun visor down, so there was definitely sun coming into the car. So similar sort of weather last few days.’
He added it was evident some of the children were seriously injured.
‘There was a couple there that looked like they were pretty injured and we just had to stay with them. We couldn’t move them,’ Mr Chalmers said.
‘Some of the boys tried to dig them out a bit and we just couldn’t.’
Tradesmen Daniel Green and Cameron Chalmers were confronted with harrowing scenes
Truck operator and Gleeson’s employer L & J Cartage broke its silence on Thursday.
‘Our hearts go out to everyone involved, especially the children and their families,’ the family-owned transport company said.
‘We are deeply shocked and saddened at what has happened.’
It also confirmed Gleeson had 20 years of experience driving trucks and had been with the company for more than 15 years.
Gleeson was still wearing wearing an orange high-vis shirt when he appeared in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday afternoon.
Reading the police summary, prosecutor Ben Kerlin said Gleeson told police he was on his ‘usual route home’ at the time and driving about 70km per hour.
‘Next thing I know the bus in front slowed,’ he allegedly told police.
‘I tried to take evasive action but I couldn’t, and if I could have swerved around it I would have,’
Mr Kerlin said Gleeson recounted seeing ‘sun flickers’ from through trees which he knew could distort his vision.
‘Whether that played a part in what happened … I couldn’t tell you’, he said, according to the documents.
Gleeson is a longtime truck driver from Balliang East near Bacchus Marsh west of Melbourne
Gleeson allegedly told police he would usually react by slowing down, but on this occasion he didn’t.
The prosecutor told the court police would need a significant amount of time to prepare the case, requesting 16 weeks to account for the ‘large number of children involved’ and size of the collision.
He added Gleeson may face ‘additional charges’ as investigations into the crash continue.
There was no allegation Gleeson was affected by drugs or alcohol.
His lawyer successfully applied for bail saying there was ‘no allegation he tried to abscond or minimise his involvement’.
As of Thursday morning , seven children remain in hospital, including one in intensive care, and all are in a stable condition.
The children sustained multiple and traumatic injuries ranging from partial to complete amputations, crushed limbs and severe lacerations to their heads and bodies.
Four will require further surgery.
A school bus carrying children from Exford Primary School in Melbourne’s west was allegedly hit from behind by a truck and overturned