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A truck driver remains in custody after the vehicle he was driving allegedly crashed into a school bus on Melbourne’s western fringe on Tuesday, seriously injuring 10 children.
Police believe the bus left Exford Primary School – just south of Melton – about 3.30pm and was attempting to turn right onto Murphys Road from Exford Road when a truck crashed into the back of it, rolling the vehicle on its side.
The scene of a school bus crash at Exford on Tuesday afternoon.Credit: Nine News
Thirteen children were taken to hospital, including 10 with serious injuries.
Royal Children’s Hospital chief executive officer Bernadette McDonald said seven children aged between five and 11 remain at the hospital, including one child in intensive care and six others in a serious condition.
The child in the ICU is expected to leave that unit sometime on Wednesday, she said.
Speaking from outside the hospital on Wednesday morning, McDonald said the young patients suffered a variety of injuries in the crash, including full and partial amputations, head injuries, spinal injuries and glass shard lacerations.
People leave the scene of the crash on Tuesday evening.Credit: Wayne Taylor
“We still have two patients to go into theatre today, and the theatre teams operated until the early hours of the morning,” she said.
“Some of these patients will require returns to theatres and multiple surgeries in the coming days and the coming weeks.
“This is traumatic for every single person that was involved. We have some very traumatised families and children in our hospital at the moment. We’re working extremely hard to provide that trauma support and care that they will need not just now, but in the coming weeks.”
The bus driver was transported to hospital in a stable condition.
The crash prompted a huge emergency response.Credit: Wayne Taylor
The truck driver remained in police custody on Wednesday morning. The 49-year-old Balliang man was not seriously injured in the crash and is expected to be interviewed by investigators today.
The crash occurred less than a kilometre from the primary school on the suburban border between Exford and Eynesbury, about 40 kilometres west of Melbourne’s CBD.
McDonald said a code brown was called at the Royal Children’s Hospital, which defers less urgent care. Specialist plastic and vascular surgeons were brought in from the Royal Melbourne Hospital to assist with surgeries overnight.
“Our emergency department, our theatre teams, and our trauma team did beautifully, as well as every staff member in the hospital,” she said.
Children at the scene of the crash.Credit: Wayne Taylor
“I couldn’t get people to go home last night, they were all wanting to stay and actually help in any way possible.”
Victoria Police Superintendent Michael Cruse said it was “very lucky” no one died in the accident, which occurred as students left the school for the day.
He said emergency services personnel faced a “very chaotic scene” as anxious parents arrived at the crash site desperate to locate their children.
“The bus has suffered significant damage, it’s also overturned,” Cruse said. “So it’s very fortunate that the injuries aren’t more serious, but I must stress it is still a very serious incident.”
Nicole Kirk, speaking to Nine News at the scene, said her daughter, 11, was on the bus but was unharmed.
“We raced down here, there was tears and emotion, [my daughter] was frightened, she has scratches, blood on her hands,” Kirk said.
“We are one of the lucky ones.”
Exford Road remains closed in both directions and police continue their investigations at the crash scene.
Anyone who witnessed the collision, with dashcam footage or information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.
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