A truck driver has been charged with dangerous driving after a horrific collision with a school bus that left multiple children with serious injuries.
The bus, which was carrying 45 school children, was allegedly struck from behind by a tipper truck while at an Eynesbury intersection, in Melbourne’s west, at about 3.45pm on Tuesday.
The 49-year-old truck driver was charged with four counts of dangerous driving causing serious injury on Wednesday.
Victoria Police Superintendent Michael Cruse said children had suffered “really life-changing injuries”.
“The injuries were really life-changing and this incident was avoidable,” he told media on Wednesday afternoon.
Superintendent Cruse said “inattention” is being considered as part of the investigation, with more charges expected to be laid.
The truck driver will appear before Melbourne Magistrates’ Court via videolink on Wednesday afternoon.
Emergency crews working to rescue children from the bus. Picture: Nine News
Eighteen children from Exford Primary School were taken to hospital, seven with serious injuries.
Exford Primary School Principal Lisa Campo told reporters a community member had called the school, alerting her of the bus crash just as staff were set to sit down for a meeting.
“They said the bus has been in an accident … I said ‘got to go’ and they all followed me down,” Ms Campo said.
“I didn’t know what I was going to see; I honestly thought we’d be there comforting some distressed kids who had been in a minor collision … I didn’t ever expect to see that and hope I never see that again.
The bus driver, a 52-year-old Melton West man, was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Superintendent Cruse praised the bus driver for immediately jumping to action and helping the children despite being injured.
Passersby also “heroically” stopped to assist children being removed from the bus.
“Some of the children were trapped and it was horrific scenes,” Superintendent Cruse said.
The truck driver has now been charged with dangerous driving. Nine News
“It was chaotic and it would’ve been really confronting for those passersby.”
Royal Children’s Hospital chief executive Bernadette McDonald gave an update on the condition of the seven children, whose ages range from 5 to 11, with serious injuries on Wednesday morning.
“We have a number of children with partial, one child has had a complete amputation,” she said.
She said one child was in the intensive care unit.
“The children have suffered multiple and traumatic injuries, including partial and complete amputations of arms, multiple crush limb injuries, severe lacerations to head and body injuries, glass shard injuries and three patients are currently receiving spinal support and being monitored, carefully, in terms of spinal injuries.
“We still have two patients to go into theatre. The theatre teams did operate until the early hours of the morning, and we still have more theatre to go today. Some of these patients will require returns to theatres and multiple surgeries in the coming days and the coming weeks.
“When we became aware of the nature of the injuries, we called in specialist plastic surgery and vascular surgery support from the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Ms McDonald said she was “very surprised” that there were no fatalities.
“I would never say we’re lucky,” she said.