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Tradies reveal bus kids’ tragic question

Jamie Gleeson, 49yo truck driver from Balliang East charged over school bus crash at Eynesbury. Picture: Facebook
Jamie Gleeson, 49yo truck driver from Balliang East charged over school bus crash at Eynesbury. Picture: Facebook

A group of hero tradies who pulled children out of the wreckage of a school bus after it was hit by a truck have revealed the youngsters were asking for their mums.

Darren Eastway, an airconditioning worker, was one of the tradesmen that rushed to the scene with little regard for their own safety.

He said when he got to the bus the children were screaming.

Speaking to A Current Affiar, Mr Eastway said they were saying things such as: “Get me out of here. I don’t want to go on the bus again. Help. Call my parents. Where’s mum?”

The school bus full of 45 children was hit from behind by a truck, causing it to overturn and trapping a number of children inside at an Eynesbury intersection, in Melbourne’s west on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Eastway said he was driving behind the truck when the accident happened. He ran to the bus along with other tradies and ripped off the sunroof hatches to gain access.

“We weren’t sure if there was one person in there or a heap of people,” he said.

“We ripped the sunroofs off and found all these kids in the bus. That was horrible.”

Emergency crews working to rescue children from the bus. Picture: 9 News
Emergency crews working to rescue children from the bus. Picture: 9 News
Dean says that the full horror of the crash hit him the next day. Photo: Channel 9
Dean says that the full horror of the crash hit him the next day. Photo: Channel 9

The tradies jumped into action with no concern for their own safety, with the bus leaking diesel and no emergency services around for several minutes.

“We were just there to help the kids, everyone would do the same,” Mr Eastway told A Current Affair.

“We’ve all got kids, you’d just hope that anyone in our position would do the same thing.”

Despite the horror, Mr Eastway and several other remained inside the bus, comforting the most injured, until all of the children had been rescued.

It was evident the injuries would be severe, with a number of students’ hands trapped beneath the bus after they fell through windows when it overturned.

“There was heaps of screaming, wanting to get out of there and they were just pinned down, some were … face down,” he said

Eighteen children from Exford Primary School were taken to hospital, seven with serious and life-changing injuries.

Emergency services had to climb through an emergency exit to reach the children before getting them out. Picture: 7 News
Emergency services had to climb through an emergency exit to reach the children before getting them out. Picture: 7 News

“We have a number of children with partial, one child has had a complete amputation,” Royal Children’s Hospital chief executive Bernadette McDonald said.

She said there were multiple crush limb injuries, severe lacerations to head and body, and spinal injuries among the children.

Meanwhile, the truck driver charged with four counts of dangerous driving causing serious injury has faced court.

Jamie Gleeson, 49, appeared remotely in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday afternoon still wearing an orange high-vis shirt.

The court heard the man, from Melbourne’s outer west, had been a truck driver for 18-years and had just finished work driving clay from Bulla to Kensington when the crash occurred.

Truck driver Jamie Gleeson has been charged over a horror crash that left multiple schoolchildren with serious injuries. Picture: Facebook
Truck driver Jamie Gleeson has been charged over a horror crash that left multiple schoolchildren with serious injuries. Picture: Facebook
Mr Gleeson appeared in court on Wednesday afternoon. Picture: Facebook
Mr Gleeson appeared in court on Wednesday afternoon. Picture: Facebook

Reading the police summary, Mr Kerwin said Mr Gleeson told police he was on his “usual route home” at the time and driving about 70km per hour.

“Next thing I know the bus in front slowed,” he allegedly told police.

“I tried to take evasive action but I couldn’t.”

Mr Kerwin said Mr Gleeson recounted seeing “sun flickers” from through trees which he knew could distort his vision.

According to the summary, Mr Gleeson stopped at the scene, called triple-0 and began helping pull children from the wreckage.

There was no allegation Mr Gleeson was affected by drugs or alcohol.

His lawyer, Ms Edwards, successfully applied for his bail saying there was “no allegation he tried to abscond or minimise his involvement”.