Skiers thrown from bus – one dead, 20 in­jured

Sunday Star-Times - - FRONT PAGE - KIRSTY LAWRENCE, LIZ BROOKER AND TOM HUNT

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.

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