Horrific start to school day


STUDENTS ready for the start of the school week were left badly shaken after their bus was hit by a sedan spinning out of control on the Pacific Highway near Corindi yesterday.

Some of the 28 children were in tears after the car slammed into the side of the bus in an incident that highlighted the dangers of the highway.

At a time when they should have been running around in the playground, they were forced to witness the car's bloodied driver and passenger being helped from the mangled wreck and taken away in an ambulance.

"It looked like it all happened in slow motion," one witness to the accident said.

The bus, heading for Woolgoolga High, Woolgoolga Public, Corindi Public, Mullaway Public and St Francis Xavier Primary schools, had just collected a student from a bus stop at the side of the highway when it was hit.

A black Honda Accord travelling south had crossed to the wrong side of the road and slammed into the side of a northbound semi-trailer, loaded with twine and cloth.

The impact sent the Honda into the trailer's rear wheels and then spinning wildly across the highway and into the back wheel of the bus.

None of the 28 children in the bus, nor their driver, 55, were injured. The car's driver, a Grafton woman, 39, suffered a serious head injury, facial and chest injuries and neck pain. She was yesterday afternoon reported to be in a serious but stable condition in Coffs Harbour Hospital.

Her daughter, 16, was also in a stable condition after sustaining a broken right arm and a shoulder injury.

The semi driver, 47, from Queensland, escaped injury.

The bus was making its regular school run between Kungala Road and Woolgoolga when the accident happened.

Ryans Bus Service organised a second bus to collect the children, who were taken to Mullaway Public School, where police and fire brigade officers talked to them. Department of Education counsellors were also sent in.

School principals contacted worried parents, and arranged to ferry the students to their respective schools. Some children were too distressed to attend lessons yesterday.

"We knew there was a bad accident by the sirens," Woolgoolga Public School principal Kevin Cross said. "I spoke to some of the students. They were shaken, but they were quite okay."

Woolgoolga High School principal, John Ward, said yesterday: "I feel for the families of people involved in such horrible accidents".

"Police contacted me to let me know all the students were okay, and we called all of the parents involved.

"We've been giving them counselling support, and a couple of them went home because they were upset."

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