3 in­jured as bus hits pedes­tri­ans, shop

Bay of Plenty Times - - NATION -

A man and two chil­dren were in­jured on a pedes­trian cross­ing by a bus that then hur­tled into the front of a com­puter store in Birken­head on Auck­land’s North Shore yes­ter­day.

The man was the worst hurt, with shocked wit­nesses grab­bing blan­kets from a nearby pet store to com­fort him as he lay in the mid­dle of the road.

A wit­ness said the AT bus — which had pas­sen­gers on board — crashed into Unitec’s Free4U com­puter train­ing fa­cil­ity in Birken­head Ave, next door to the Tongue and Groove Cafe. Three stu­dents were in the fa­cil­ity at the time but were un­hurt.

“It came across the side of the road, through a bar­rier and into the build­ing. I am in shock. It is mas­sive.”

Al­ls­tar ap­pren­tice plumber Isaac, who was trav­el­ling in his van the op­po­site di­rec­tion to the bus, said he had stopped for two adults and two kids aged un­der 10 at the pedes­trian cross­ing.

“I saw the whole thing. [The bus] pulled straight from the bus stop [through the cross­ing]. I’m not sure if they hit the ac­cel­er­a­tor in­stead of the brake,” Isaac said.

“It came out of nowhere. I was lucky not to get hit. If I had been 2 me­tres ahead I would’ve been hit di­rectly on the driver’s side.”

There were quite a few pas­sen­gers on the bus, he said.

“They all got out of the bus real quick.”

After the bus hit the shop he saw one of the peo­ple on the pedes­trian cross­ing — a woman — cry­ing.

A child ly­ing on the ground was scream­ing, and was picked up and be­ing com­forted.

“They didn’t want to move the fella, the man,” wit­ness Isaac said.

The man was aged about 40 and was con­scious and talk­ing, he said.

He be­lieved the bus driver was a woman, who had re­mained at the scene talk­ing to po­lice of­fi­cers.

The bus was towed out of the store by a heavy sal­vage truck at 1.40pm.

Unitec’s Free4U Com­put­ing fa­cil­ity of­fers free com­mu­nity cour­ses.

A Unitec spokesman said a class with three stu­dents was un­der way at the time of the crash. No one in­side was hurt.

Nic­sons pet shop owner Su­san Huang said three peo­ple — a man and two chil­dren — were in­jured, with the man still be­ing at­tended to on the cross­ing.

“There was a loud noise, and then lots of scream­ing . . . and peo­ple were run­ning into the cafes and shops. We gave them some of the pet blan­kets to keep the man warm.”

The man was be­ing treated in the mid­dle of the road, with blan­kets cov­er­ing him. He was con­scious, with his eyes open.

“The chil­dren are scream­ing and cry­ing and they are be­ing taken to the am­bu­lance.”

A woman who was with the trio was not in­jured.

“I have heard from peo­ple who are say­ing the driver may have pushed the ac­cel­er­a­tor rather than the brake . . . I’m not re­ally sure.

“My hus­band said the bus was go­ing very fast,” Huang said.

The bus had swerved to the right, cross­ing the cen­tre line and smash­ing into the glass front of the com­puter store. Foetal al­co­hol cam­paign A re­searcher has called for ev­i­dence-based mea­sures to re­duce the num­ber of ba­bies born with Foetal Al­co­hol Spec­trum Dis­or­der. The Gov­ern­ment is go­ing to force al­co­hol com­pa­nies to dis­play warn­ing la­bels about the risks of drink­ing dur­ing preg­nancy. Otago Univer­sity al­co­hol re­searcher Jen­nie Con­nor says she sup­ports it, but there’s no ev­i­dence it works. She says 40 per cent of preg­nan­cies are un­planned, so many women un­know­ingly con­tinue to drink early in their preg­nancy. Con­nor says re­duc­ing widespread heavy drink­ing is the best way to re­duce harm. She says things that work are price con­trols and re­duc­ing avail­abil­ity — mea­sures that have been taken with to­bacco. Law So­ci­ety un­der fire The Law So­ci­ety says there’s a very high thresh­old for sus­pend­ing a lawyer or strik­ing them off the reg­is­ter. The so­ci­ety is the in­dus­try reg­u­la­tor but has come un­der fire for not cen­sur­ing the part­ner at Rus­sell McVeagh who re­signed over in­ap­pro­pri­ate com­ments made while drunk. For­mer lawyer Olivia Wens­ley told New­stalk ZB the man’s res­ig­na­tion with­out cen­sure means he can still prac­tise law and will emerge some­where else. Law So­ci­ety act­ing ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Mary Ol­livier says there are times where they can ap­ply for in­terim sus­pen­sion but the thresh­old is high. $100,000 fine over in­jury Work­safe is scold­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing firms after nearly a dozen went to court for leav­ing work­ers ex­posed to un­safe ma­chin­ery. The lat­est is All Flex Pack­ag­ing Lim­ited, which has been fined $100,000 by the Manukau Dis­trict Court and or­dered to pay $20,000 repa­ra­tion after a worker’s hand was crushed in a ma­chine. Work­Safe spokesman Si­mon Humphries says the in­dus­try needs to lift its game in pro­tect­ing against ma­chin­ery risks. He says too of­ten Work­Safe is vis­it­ing scenes where some­thing is stuck in a ma­chine, a ma­chine has jammed, or some­thing needed to be moved and a worker has dam­aged a limb in the process. Fo­cus on boat­ing safety Yes­ter­day marked the start of Boat­ing Safety Week and mar­itime New Zealand is brac­ing for the usual spike in boat­ing deaths. Spokes­woman Sharon Forsyth says the most im­por­tant thing peo­ple can learn is that life­jack­ets are more ef­fec­tive when they are be­ing worn. Forsyth says about 20 boat­ies die each year and that’s too many, es­pe­cially when there are sim­ple things peo­ple could do to keep them­selves safe.

PHOTO / GREG BOWKER

The bus crashed through the store’s front win­dow.

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