Tree sends bus over edge
University students lucky to escape injury after coach sent off road by fallen tree
A COBB and Co coach driver and his 11 passengers have come away unscathed after the bus they were in was left balancing on the edge of a cliff after being forced off the Bogong High Plains Road by a fallen tree on Saturday.
The incident happened at about 1.50pm, just one kilometre past Bogong Village, as the bus carrying 11 outdoor education students from La Trobe University headed towards Falls Creek.
Leading Senior Constable Peter Johns of Mt Beauty police said a burnt mountain ash came down on the road and speared the side of the bus.
“The tree was probably around 15-20 metres in length and the top three to four metres has broken off and hit the side of the bus,” he said.
“The bus driver has obviously swerved to his left which is towards the edge of the road and a very steep embankment.
“Fortunately with the some moisture on the side of the road and some fallen trees in the right position the bus has been stopped from going over.
“The front part of the bus was almost embedded in the ground and there was also a large fallen tree that helped stabilise the bus on the downhill side.”
The driver was forced to break a window on the top side of the bus to allow him and his passengers to climb out.
Ldg Snr Const Johns said four major bushfires over the course of decade had resulted in tress regularly falling across the Bogong High Plains Road.
“Tree falling over on the road is almost a common occurrence and I guess we’ve been lucky that we have seen anything more serious,” he said.
“On this occasion it was very fortunate that no one was injured.
“The driver did nothing wrong it was just very unlucky or very lucky whichever way you want to look at it.”
A heavy haulage tower truck arrived that afternoon to remove the bus but two were required to safely recover the bus, forcing the closure of the road between 12pm and 2pm on Sunday.
Earlier on Saturday a man was airlifted from Falls Creek after suffering heart attack while skiing.
The 60 year-old was assisted by doctors on the slopes before paramedics arrived and was taken by air ambulance to hospital in a stable condition at about 11.50am.