Midlands school bus tragedy

2017-09-06 11:21
Emergency personnel look at school bags and debris scattered across the N3 northbound after a bus carrying 46 pupils and four staff from Michaelhouse crashed on Tuesday afternoon.

Emergency personnel look at school bags and debris scattered across the N3 northbound after a bus carrying 46 pupils and four staff from Michaelhouse crashed on Tuesday afternoon. (Ian Carbutt)

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Pietermaritzburg - A Michaelhouse pupil was killed and 47 others were injured when the bus they were travelling in to play soccer at Kearsney College overturned on the N3 near Hilton on Tuesday afternoon.

The pupil who died was identified by the school as Themba Dloti (16) whose family are from Johannesburg.

Greg Theron, the Michaelhouse rector (principal) said a hired bus transporting four under-16 soccer teams to Kearsney College suffered a tyre blow-out going down Townhill and flipped onto its side.

When The Witness arrived at the scene the bus was lying on its side and blocking the northbound traffic lane. Among the crash debris and pools of oil were school bags with tracksuits, running shoes and sports kit spilled out of them.

Paramedics, police and other emergency services were on the scene attending to the injured pupils.

Local authorities had closed off the road while paramedics began assessing the injured pupils.

ER24 paramedics were seen trying to resuscitate one of the injured pupils, who lay on the median. He was later declared dead, said ER24 spokesperson Russel Meiring.

Meiring said most of the pupils had climbed out of the vehicle and were found walking around on the scene.

“Approximately 48 children were assessed by various services.

“Two children were found to be in a critical condition while approximately 46 others had sustained injuries ranging from minor to serious,” he said.

Michaelhouse marketing manager Murray Witherspoon said Michaelhouse was saddened by Themba’s death in Tuesday’s “terrible accident”.

“The entire school, staff and boys, gathered in the chapel where the news was shared.

“We are united in our grief and shock and our prayers are extended to the Dloti family,” he said.

Witherspoon said the 46 boys and four staff members who were in the bus when the accident happened, were on their way to soccer fixtures at Kearsney College in a 60-seat hired bus.

He said the pupils and some staff members who were seriously injured were undergoing surgery in four hospitals in Pietermaritzburg, namely Grey’s, Medi Clinic, Hilton Life and St Anne’s.

Reshnee Beekrum at Pietermaritzburg Medi Clinic said the hospital had admitted 16 pupils and one staff member. “The patients’ injuries vary from minor abrasions to serious injuries, but they are all in good care and the hospital is managing absolutely well,” said Beekrum.

Spokesperson for St Anne’s Hospital, Shubnum Ismail, said they could not comment about the incident as the school had asked that all queries be directed to them.

Witherspoon said the pupils were receiving necessary counselling and added that Dloti’s parents were still very shaken by the news.

Dev Maharaj, from the bus company, Maharaj’s Coaches, said this was the first accident of its kind during their long association with various colleges in the area.

“In as far as the vehicle and driver involved in the accident is concerned, we can give the public the assurance that the vehicle was well maintained and the driver highly experienced.

“We will co-operate fully with the traffic authorities who may wish to conduct investigations into the probable cause of the accident and will keep those affected by this very tragic incident advised of the outcome of the investigation,” said Maharaj.

Maharaj said the incident was truly a blemish on their impeccable safety record and he had no doubt that the investigation would reveal that this was “a freak incident that could not have been foreseen or avoided”.

“We would like to convey our heartfelt condolences to the family of the student who tragically lost his life.

“The incident is highly regrettable and we wish all injured pupils a full recovery,” added Maharaj.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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