Truck driver fronts court over school bus crash
A truck driver has faced court charged with dangerous driving causing a school bus crash that resulted in children requiring amputations.
Jamie Gleeson, 49, was granted bail during a hearing in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday afternoon.
He's charged with four counts of dangerous driving causing serious injury over the crash at Eynesbury, in Melbourne's west, on Tuesday afternoon.
It's alleged he was behind the wheel of a truck that collided with a school bus carrying 45 students from Exford Primary School.
Prosecutor Ben Kerlin said the bus driver had noticed the truck approaching quickly from behind before it was struck about 3.40pm.
Gleeson, a truck driver for 18 years, told police he would normally "take it easy" in school zones and was accelerating out of the 60km/h zone outside Exford Primary School when he noticed flashes of sunlight coming through the trees.
He said he hit the brakes after seeing the brake lights on the bus in front of him, but he didn't have enough time to stop before hitting the back.
"If I could have swerved around it I would have," he told officers during his interview with police on Wednesday morning.
His lawyer said this was Gleeson's first time in custody and he had no prior driving or other criminal matters.
Magistrate Andrew McKenna agreed to grant bail for Gleeson, noting there would be a delay in bringing the case to court.
Prosecutors have asked for 16 weeks to prepare the brief of evidence against him, given the size of the collision scene and the number of children who will need to be interviewed.
Mr McKenna said Gleeson had co-operated with police at the scene.
The father-of-two's bail conditions include that he not drive a heavy vehicle.
The court heard there were 46 children on the bus and nine became trapped after the bus rolled on to its side after being struck.
Eight children suffered life-threatening injuries and the bus driver suffered serious injuries. Two children had arms and hands amputated, the court heard.
Another 30 children were described by police as "walking wounded".
The charges against Gleeson specifically relate to four children - two each aged nine and 10.
Mr Kerlin said there may be further charges laid.
Wearing an orange and blue hi-vis shirt, Gleeson sat with his hands crossed in his lap while appearing by video-link from Sunshine.
He's due back in court for a committal mention on October 18.