Tourist bus narrowly avoids catastrophe in truck crash
UPDATE: A GROUP of Indian Nationals who narrowly avoided tragedy on the Pacific Highway after the van they were in was side swiped by a semi-trailer, were travelling south from Brisbane to Sydney.
The mini bus and the northbound semi-trailer crashed near Warrell Creek, south of Macksville, just before dawn.
NSW Ambulance Duty Operations Manager Mick Mair said of the 11 Indian Nationals on board five were taken to hospital including a number of children who suffered cuts after windows on the driver's side of the bus shattered upon impact.
The front of the prime mover impacted heavily leaving heavy dents in the side panels of the rental bus.
Inspt. Mair said had the truck crashed into the front pillar of the van, there would have been the likelihood of multiple fatalities.
"The prime mover sideswiped the mini bus and had that impact been 30-centimetres difference to where it was we potentially could have had a catastrophic scene no doubt involving a number of fatalities. So we were very lucky in this instance," he said.
The crash scene, happened on a notorious soon-to-be-completed stretch of the Pacific Highway, only metres from where the newest section of the M1 Motorway is due to open in about eight weeks time.
"Fortunately, the accident happened on a section of roadworks, signposted 60kmh.
"(It happened) in a location where there has previously been and recently been a persons trapped accident.
"Warrell Creek has been the scene of multiple fatalities and absolutely devastating accidents.
"Apparently we are very close to having this last link opened on the highway and we are very thankful to the local, federal and state ministers for getting it to that stage," he said.
After speaking with police, the truck driver told The Advocate he came around a bend and saw the mini bus on the wrong side of the highway and due to the concrete barriers on the roadway had nowhere to go to avoid a collision.
Three ambulances were used to convey the injured passengers on the bus to Macksville and Coffs Harbour Hospitals.
The five patients taken to hospital included: a 42-year-old female, a 37-year-old female, a 16-year-old female, a 43-year-old male and a 13-year-old male.
The accident involved a large response from emergency services seeing five ambulances attend and two emergency helicopters placed on standby.
"It has been a horror area over the past 20 years, so we were very lucky in this instance," Inspt. Mair said.
"When you get a call to say that a prime mover and a mini bus have collided in a well-known black spot area, certainly you are thinking back to what's happened in the past and you are hoping that the outcome is like today that everyone got out of it very lightly."
8AM: A MINI bus transporting 11 Indian Nationals was side swiped by a semi-trailer in an early morning accident on the Pacific Highway on the Coffs Coast.
The crash happened around 4.50am near Warrell Creek, 8km south of Macksville, one of the last remaining sections of the Pacific Highway to be upgraded to dual carriageway.
Inside the bus were families with children, believed to be visiting Australia from Mumbai.
A number of patients were assessed for injuries.
The truck driver and the driver of the van have both given statements to police.
Police are investigating whether fatigue was a factor in the crash.
The NSW Ambulance Media Unit said six patients were treated by paramedics at the scene.
"Five patients were assessed at the scene for minor injuries and one patient was assessed for more significant injuries," a NSW Ambulance spokesman said.
"Five patients were transported to Coffs Harbour Base Hospital and all were reported to be in a stable condition.
"The patients suffered a range of minor injuries, mainly cuts and bruises sustained from broken glass."