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Driver hailed as a hero for saving the lives of 27 schoolgirls in bush crash

The driver of the bus that rammed off a highway carrying 27 private school girls was hailed a hero for saving their lives.

Students and four staff from Loreto College, Ballarat, were traveling along Victoria’s Western Highway early Wednesday morning when their bus slowed to avoid a crash and before being hit by a truck.

The vehicle rolled off an embankment just after 3:20 a.m., but no one was killed thanks to the bus driver’s heroic actions.

Trevor Oliver, owner of the tow truck company that was on site, told the ABC that the driver made sure every girl was safe, despite being injured herself.

“How he survived is amazing. He refused to go to the hospital until every girl had left the scene of the accident,” he said.

“It was as if the captain of the ship went down.”

The driver of the bus that crashed while transporting a group of private school girls has been labeled a hero for treating the situation as 'the captain of the ship going down'

The driver of the bus that crashed while transporting a group of private school girls has been labeled a hero for treating the situation as ‘the captain of the ship going down’

Mr Oliver was clearing debris from another nearby accident when he heard “three terrible bangs” during the horror smash.

He rushed to the crime scene and helped free the schoolgirls, who are in the ages 9 to 12.

The tow truck driver revealed that one of the girls had to have part of her leg amputated.

“Three of us got her … we released her and carried her outside,” he said.

“(I) just tried to calm her down, and grabbed everything we could to wrap her leg because we were aware of her bleeding.

“It just seemed like an eternity to get enough ambulances there.”

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.

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 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 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 Bus Association of Victoria believes seat belts have played an important role in saving the lives of those on board after most fastened their seatbelts.

“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.”

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 lucky.’

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

Speed ​​limits at the time of the accident were reduced following a collision the previous night.

Loreto College will remain open to students, parents, and faculty on Thursday’s Bereavement Day holiday so they can access counseling.

The exciting trip to the US that the students went to included six nights in NASA space camp, two nights in Washington, a tour of the US Capitol, lunch with an astronaut, and a cruise through the Florida Everglades.

The field trip, which cost $7,700 per student, was previously canceled due to Covid restrictions.

The distraught mother of one of the students went to a private local social media group to explain that her daughter was physically okay but was shaken by the incident.

The mother had canceled her own international trip, but immediately canceled the flights to stay with her daughter.

“I wanted to say how Jetstar softened the blow of what was a terrible day for my family,” the mother wrote.

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

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

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

“We were separately on our way to the airport for our trip to Bali when we heard how serious the crash was.

“Although she is physically fine, it has been very traumatic that many of her friends have been lifted or sent by ambulance to the hospital.”

The mother then said she wanted to “give credit” to the airline for their help and reminded the parents to “please give your loved ones an extra push.”

Witness to the crash, Trevor Oliver, who works for a towing company, told Seven News he was about half a mile away when he heard three loud bangs.

Oliver ran to the crime scene and was shocked to see injured children between ages 9 and 11 spilling from the bus onto the grass.

“Your heart immediately sinks, but then to get there and find students, (it’s) another world,” he said.

Oliver said he ran across the embankment and, with the help of others, took the driver’s windshield off so some girls could climb out.

He then saw a girl whose leg was almost completely separated from her body. “Three of us got hold of her . . . we freed her and carried her outside,” he said.

Trevor Oliver (pictured) rushed to the crime scene after a school bus collided with a truck on a Melbourne highway

Trevor Oliver (pictured) rushed to the crime scene after a school bus collided with a truck on a Melbourne highway

Trevor Oliver (pictured) rushed to the crime scene after a school bus collided with a truck on a Melbourne highway

The truck and car collided at 3:15 a.m. Wednesday in Bacchus Marsh, in northwestern Melbourne.

The truck and car collided at 3:15 a.m. Wednesday in Bacchus Marsh, in northwestern Melbourne.

The truck and car collided at 3:15 a.m. Wednesday in Bacchus Marsh, in northwestern Melbourne.

‘(I) just tried to calm her down. We grabbed everything we could to wrap her leg because we were aware of her bleeding.’

He then gave the students his phone so they could call their families.

Mr Oliver used to work for the Country Fire Authority and has dealt with trauma before but acknowledged that it never gets easier.

In a statement, the school thanked the emergency services and reassured parents.

“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.’

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.

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