Tragedy as public bus rolls
A bus laden with passengers crashes in a ditch on Shute Harbour Rd
IT WAS a harrowing scene on Shute Harbour Rd Tuesday afternoon, with emergency services converging from all corners of the region to assist the victims of a bus rollover.
Passengers huddled under quickly erected tarps, an attempt to shield them from 35degree temperatures while they waited their turn to be taken to Proserpine Hospital.
The bus was travelling from Airlie Beach to Proserpine about 1pm when it left the road and hit a steep embankment before rolling onto its side. The bus was operated by Whitsunday Transit and the majority of passengers were Whitsunday locals.
Those first on the scene told of the grim scene that confronted them.
Jake Coyne was travelling in the car behind and witnessed the crash firsthand.
He told of the need to kick out the windscreen of the bus to allow access to passengers trapped inside.
The site of the accident, 500 metres south of Gregory Cannon Valley Rd, was swarming with emergency workers, ambulance drivers working constantly to minimise the wait for injured passengers immobilised by the side of the road.
All local traffic was diverted through Strathdickie.
Proserpine Ambulance Station officer in charge Gavin Cousens was one of the first on the scene.
Mr Cousens said 11 people had been injured, “all ranging from ages of six months old to 80 years of age”.
At the time of going to press, a 17-year-old man remained in Townsville Hospital in a critical condition.
Five patients had been discharged, while a 29-year-old man, a 23-year-old woman and a 79-year-old woman remained in Mackay Hospital in stable conditions.
Mr Cousens described the scene as ambulance officers arrived.
“Out of those 11 people, four people were critically injured, one was a priority two and we had six people that were priority three,” he said.
The patients were taken to Proserpine Hospital, before being transported to other medical centres as needed.
“Four patients went to Mackay, two patients were airlifted to Townsville Hospital, (and) four patients (remained at) Proserpine Hospital,” Mr Cousens said.
The RACQ CQ Rescue Helicopter and the Royal Flying Doctor Service carried out the emergency airlifts.
Mr Cousens expressed his confusion as to how the crash could have happened.
“It was a very bright, sunny day, happening on what appeared to be a straight stretch of road,” he said.
“The reasons why the accident occurred at this stage are not clear.”
GRIM SCENE: Those first on the scene hold a tarp over injured passengers while they wait to be transported to hospital.
Tarps provided makeshift protection from the sun adjacent Shute Harbour Rd.
Emergency workers do their best for victims of the Whitsunday Transit bus crash on Tuesday.