Skiers thrown from bus – one dead, 20 injured
A horror smash that threw Ruapehu skiers from their bus yesterday has now claimed a life. The Police Serious Crash Unit, the CIB and the commercial vehicle safety team are investigating the incident. The safety of the Turoa ski-field bus fleet is being reviewed, and those slopes will be closed today. Reports said the dead passenger was a child. Police have asked for witnesses to the crash to come forward. Ruapehu Alpine Lifts chief executive Ross Copland said the bus overturned at the 9-kilometre mark on Ohakune Mountain Rd, which runs 17km up the mountain to Turoa. The accident occurred just after 2.30pm yesterday. The bus had 31 people on board – and about 20 were injured, at least four suffering moderate or serious injuries. Three people were airlifted to Waikato Hospital. One 31-year-old woman was in a critical condition. A 20-year-old man and a 29-year-old woman were stable. The road was closed for four hours while emergency services helped the injured and cleared the debris. There were about 1500 people skiing and snowboarding on Turoa yesterday, and it’s believed about 1000 of them were stuck at the top of the mountain until just before 8pm. Many of those crowded into the skifield’s Turoa Base Cafe. Zac Williamson, who had spent the day up the mountain, said the top car park was jam-packed with at least 500 people waiting around. Initial reports from the scene indicated people were thrown from the bus. At least four helicopters, seven fire crews and several ambulances attended the incident. Aucklander Michelle Bruton commented on Facebook that her daughter was on the bus. ‘‘Thank you to all for the kind words. My daughter, her dad (my ex) and her step bro were on that bus. My daughter and her dad have been airlifted to Waikato Hospital. Heading down there now from Auckland x.’’
Occupants of this bus were airlifted to Waikato Hospital after yesterday’s crash. LIZ BROOKER/STUFF
Skiers and snowboarders trapped on the mountain crowded into Turoa Base Cafe.