The father of a lorry driver charged after a horror crash that injured dozens of schoolchildren northwest of Melbourne says his son is ‘shattered’ by the incident.
Robert Gleeson spoke to reporters on Thursday after his son, Jamie Gleeson, was released the night before.
“He’s very upset, he’s more upset about the fact that there are children and families involved,” the deputy said Announce sun reported he said outside his Balliang East property.
“He’s going to have to live with this misfortune… we’re all going to have to, and we’re all supporting him.”
The comments came after a school bus carrying 46 primary school age children and the driver rolled out after being hit by a lorry at around 3.55pm on Tuesday as it turned off at Eynesbury.
Jamie Gleeson is said to have crashed into a bus (pictured) transporting students from Exford Primary School
Jamie Gleeson, 49, was arrested at the scene and charged with four counts of dangerous driving resulting in serious injury
Nine children were trapped in the wreckage, eight suffered life-threatening injuries, eight had serious injuries and 30 were described as ‘walking wounded’.
Two children have since had their limbs amputated.
Seven children are still in stable condition at the Royal Children’s Hospital on Thursday.
Mr Gleeson described his son as a ‘good boy’ who was always trying to do things for those around him
“Unfortunately a lot of people will be affected by this with their children and Jamie is very, very angry about that fact,” he said.
Jamie Gleeson, 49, was arrested at the scene and charged with four counts of dangerous driving, seriously injured the following afternoon after speaking to police.
He faced court later the same day where further details about the horrific crash were revealed.
Prosecutor Ben Kerwin said Mr Gleeson reportedly finished work an hour early after spending about 10 hours driving ‘five to six’ loads of clay from Bulla to a job site in the Melbourne suburb of Kensington.
He was on his way home and was driving his “usual route,” he said.
Mr Kerwin claimed there was no evidence of alcohol or drugs and Mr Gleeson told investigators he was traveling at about 70km per hour – 10km per hour below the posted speed limit.
The court heard the bus slowed down and pointed to the right as the right rear panel was struck by the truck, causing it to flip on its side.
“Before I know it, the bus in front of me slowed down and started to turn right and suddenly I saw brake lights,” the father of two is said to have told police.
“I tried to take evasive action, but it didn’t work… the impact didn’t feel huge.”
The court heard the bus driver, 52, had seen the truck approaching at high speed and had tried to accelerate during its turn to get out of the way.
Robert Gleeson told reporters his family will stick together: ‘We all support him’
The court heard the bus slowing down and pointing to the right as the right rear panel was struck by the truck, causing it to flip on its side
Nine children were trapped in the wreckage, eight suffered life-threatening injuries, eight had serious injuries and 30 were described as ‘walking wounded’
In a statement, his employer L&J Cartage said the family business was upset by the crash and Mr Gleeson had been driving trucks for more than 20 years.
“Our hearts go out to everyone involved, especially the children and their families. We are deeply shocked and saddened by what has happened,” said a spokesman.
On Thursday, the Prime Minister of Victoria announced that his government could make changes to laws regarding seatbelts on buses following a horror crash that left dozens of school students injured.
Speaking to reporters, Daniel Andrews said his administration would “look very closely” at existing laws.
“It’s very important that we identify what happened here and then learn from it,” he said.
“See if there’s anything else we can do…we owe that to anyone involved in this.”
Mr Andrews praised the emergency workers and community members who helped after the crash, which took place less than a mile from Exford Primary School.
Road safety lawyer Donald Gibb said Australian governments had “fallen asleep at the wheel” over the issue of seatbelts and road safety.
“I think supervision, control and supervision of children on buses is long overdue,” he told ABC Rural Radio.
In Victoria, no buses or coaches are required by law to have seatbelts unless there is a seat directly opposite the windshield.
Free school buses in regional Victoria were fitted with seatbelts from 2013 and as of March 2023 they are now installed on 83 per cent of buses.
Bus drivers are exempt from laws that require drivers to wear seat belts for passengers.
Mr Gleeson has been released on bail and will appear in court in October.