New details have emerged about the horrific accident between a truck and a school bus full of children, including the truck driver’s frantic efforts to help the trapped students moments later.
The school bus was reported to have been hit from behind by a lorry and overturned on the corner of Exford and Murphys Rd in Eynesbury, 35 miles from Melbourne, at around 3:40pm on Tuesday.
On board were 45 children from Exford Primary School, some of whom suffered life-changing injuries – with one pupil undergoing a ‘complete’ amputation and others losing limbs.
Lorry driver and father-of-two Jamie Robert Gleeson, 49, was released on bail on Wednesday after being charged with four counts of dangerous driving resulting in serious injury.
The court heard on Wednesday how Gleeson told police he saw the “sun flash” between the trees in the moments before the impact. The court was told how Gleeson stopped at the scene after the accident, called triple-0 and began helping to pull children from the wreckage.
Daniel Green and Cameron Chalmers were among four tradesmen driving home from a construction site as the horrific crash unfolded before them.
A court heard on Wednesday how truck driver Jamie Gleeson (pictured) began helping to pull children from the wreckage of the bus shortly after the crash
The four colleagues helped pull children from the wreckage and held hands with those trapped as they waited for emergency services to arrive.
“As soon as I ripped open the access hatch it was just deafening, the screaming,” Mr Green told Sunrise on Thursday.
“The screams and cries for help from all the kids. The looks on their faces were horrible. Just pure fear.’
“We got there first about 10 seconds after the bus overturned, we were ripping open the shutters, helping kids and getting them out.”
Both traders agreed that it was sunny then. ‘
The sun came out at that time of 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 on and I had the sun visor down, so the sun was definitely coming into the car. So similar weather over the past few days.’
He added that it was clear that some of the children were seriously injured.
“There was a couple there who looked like they were pretty hurt and we just had to stay with them. We couldn’t move them,” Mr Chalmers said.
“Some guys tried to dig them out a little bit and we just couldn’t.”
Traders Daniel Green (left) and Cameron Chalmers (right) were confronted with harrowing scenes
The tradies stayed with the imprisoned children all the time, holding their hands and talking to them.
“We kept them at ease and spoke to the children who were still trapped and just let the emergency services do their job,” Mr Chalmers said.
“They did a great job and picked up the bus and we were able to get them out, which was great.”
Truck driver and Gleeson’s employer L&J Cartage broke the silence on Thursday.
Our heart goes out to everyone involved, especially the children and their families.
“We are deeply shocked and saddened by what has happened.”
It also confirmed that Gleeson had 20 years of experience driving trucks and had been with the company for more than 15 years.
Seven children are still in hospital after the horrific crash. Pictured is the bus wreck at the junction of Exford Road and Murphys Road in Eynesbury
Jamie Robert Gleeson has twenty years of truck driving experience, according to his employer
Gleeson was still wearing an orange high-vis shirt when he appeared at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday afternoon.
Prosecutor Ben Kerlin read the police summary and said Gleeson told police he was on his “usual route home” at the time, going about 43 mph.
“Before I know it, the bus slowed down in front of me,” he allegedly told police.
“I tried to take evasive action, but it didn’t work, and if I could have swerved around it, I would have done it”
Mr Kerlin said Gleeson reported seeing ‘sun flashes’ through trees that he knew could distort his vision.
“Whether that played a role in what happened… I couldn’t say,” he said, according to the documents.
Gleeson reportedly told police he would usually respond by slowing down, but on this occasion he did not.
The prosecutor said the court’s police would need a long time to prepare the case and asked for 16 weeks to take into account the “large number of children involved” and the magnitude of the collision.
He added that Gleeson may face “additional costs” as the investigation into the crash continues.
Children were trapped on the bus before witnesses and rescuers pulled them from the wreckage and took them to hospital
Gleeson returned negative blood tests for both drugs and alcohol,
His lawyer successfully applied for bail, saying there was “no allegation that he was attempting to abscond or minimize his involvement.”
Seven children are still in hospital on Thursday morning, one of them in intensive care. All are in a stable condition.
The children suffered multiple and traumatic injuries ranging from partial to full amputations, crushed limbs and severe cuts to their heads and bodies.
Four will require further surgery.
A school bus carrying children from Exford Primary School in Melbourne’s west is reported to have been hit by a lorry from behind and overturned