Bacchus Marsh school bus crash: students saved wearing seatbelts, bus association says
Twenty-seven young schoolgirls and four adults on their way to a “space camp” in the US could have died pinned under their upturned bus, had it not been for one major decision made.
Students from Loreto College, Ballarat, were driving along Victoria’s Western Highway early Wednesday morning when their bus slowed to avoid a crash and was hit by a B-double truck.
The Bus Association of Victoria believes seat belts have played an important role in saving the lives of those on board.
It is unclear exactly how many passengers were wearing seat belts, but the organization confirmed that most passengers were wearing them.
“It seems like there were some who weren’t, but it was a seat belt coach and the majority were wearing them,” director Chris Lowe told The Guardian.
“The whole circumstance could have been a lot worse had it not been for the seat belt.”
The school bus, carrying 27 students and four teachers, rolled 50 meters behind it and a truck collided in the confusion of a previous truck accident (photo, emergency services on site)
The students were on their way to Melbourne Airport for a school trip to the US when their bus rolled down the 50-meter high embankment at around 3:20 am.
Loreto College will remain open to students, parents, and faculty on Thursday’s Bereavement Day holiday so they can access counseling.
Rescuers were faced with a devastating scene as they helped students aged nine to 11 trapped on the bus below in pitch black and disturbing weather.
Police said it was “miraculous” that all those on board were able to pull themselves out of the wreckage and survive the crash.
“Quite miraculously they evacuated themselves and other people, I believe truck drivers and that, stopped to help them,” Detective Inspector Roger Schranz said.
“I assumed someone would have died from this whole tragedy. So they are all very happy people.’
Police are still investigating the collision between a school bus and a truck (pictured) on Wednesday and asked anyone with relevant information to contact Crime Stoppers
Acting Superintendent of the Victoria Police Department, Jason Templar, told reporters the event was “fairly distressing” for everyone involved.
“It is unbelievable that no one has been seriously injured,” he said.
Three of the teenagers flown to the Royal Children’s Hospital are in serious but stable conditions.
A woman in her 40s and a man in her 50s are in stable condition at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Everyone else on board was taken to various hospitals for observation on Wednesday.
Emergency services immediately arrived on the scene Wednesday morning to find the school bus on its side and students pulling themselves out of the wreckage
Executive Director of the BAV Chris Lowe (pictured left) said most students wore seat belts on the bus, a decision that may have saved many lives as police were relieved to find there were no casualties at the scene
Kangaroo Transport Industries CEO Steve Buck said the 60-year-old driver was a subcontractor “who has been driving roadtrains safely for over 30 years” and required surgery after becoming trapped in the cab.
Speed limits at the time of the accident were reduced following a collision the previous night.
The students were on their way to the airport to travel to a NASA space camp in the US.
The exciting trip to the US that the students went to included six nights at the NASA space camp, two nights in Washington, a tour of the US Capitol building, lunch with an astronaut, and a cruise of the Florida Everglades.
The field trip, which cost $7,700 per student, was previously canceled due to Covid restrictions.
The school released a statement Thursday afternoon to thank the emergency services and reassure the parents.
Victoria Police Detective Inspector Roger Schranz (pictured) said the truck driver, who was seriously injured, collided with the bus as traffic had built up from a previous crash
The truck and car collided at 3:15 a.m. Wednesday in Bacchus Marsh, in northwestern Melbourne.
“The College is deeply grateful for the prompt and professional response from the emergency services personnel at the scene and is deeply grateful to Grampians Health for their continued support,” the statement said.
“Our caring Loreto community is deeply concerned for the injured and their families and we ask that their privacy be respected. We thank you for your understanding.’
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews offered support to the school on Wednesday after speaking with the principal.
The Melbourne-bound lanes of the Western Freeway between Ballan and Bacchus Marsh have since reopened.
The detectives of the large collision units are investigating the exact circumstances of the crash.