Still shaken from their ordeal, members of the Ballina High School AFL team were greeted by anxious parents when they finally g
Still shaken from their ordeal, members of the Ballina High School AFL team were greeted by anxious parents when they finally g

Fight for life

By CRAIG McTEAR

THE 15-year-old passenger who survived when her van smashed into a coach at Bonville on Monday was clinging to life late yesterday in a Sydney hospital.

She was originally taken to Coffs Harbour Health Campus after she reportedly suffered a head injury and a broken arm in the head-on which claimed the lives of her four travelling companions.

At 11pm Monday, she was flown by air ambulance to St George Hospital where she remained yesterday in a critical but stable condition in intensive care.

All five Toyota Tarago occupants are United States nationals. The girl is believed to have a mother in the US who may have recently visited her here.

The 48-year-old male driver and his wife, 57 ? who lived in South Grafton ? a woman, 77 and a boy, 16, died at the scene. The married couple have a daughter in Australia.

Police were yesterday not releasing any names because formal identification was not expected until at least the end of the week.

Investigators believe the five set out from South Grafton and were possibly Sydney-bound.

While the cause of the accident is still being investigated, Chief Inspector Matt Sponberg confirmed the van did not turn onto the highway from any intersections.

"For whatever reason, it veered into the path of the bus," he said.

All 25 people aboard the Ballina-bound coach were taken in two shuttles to Coffs Harbour Health Campus for assessment and treatment for minor injuries. All were later discharged.

The coach driver, a 73-year-old Lismore man, was treated for a scraped knee. The 21 Ballina High AFL players aboard had been accompanied by two teachers and a student teacher.

After the smash, some of the players were taken to Bonville International Golf Resort ahead of their journey to hospital.

Seven Health Service counsellors attended the hospital, along with Department of Education counsellors and other staff from the Education Department's regional office.



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