The driver of a truck has been charged by police after his vehicle struck a school bus on the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia, on Tuesday, leaving seven children in hospital with serious injuries.
The driver, who has not been named, was charged with four counts of dangerous driving causing serious injury, a Victoria Police statement said.
He was due to appear via a video link in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.
Police superintendent Michael Cruse said more charges were likely.
“Speed will be considered as well as part of the investigation,” he said.
Mr Cruse paid tribute to passers-by and the injured bus driver who helped children from the bus, which was carrying 45 pupils.
Exford Primary School principal Lisa Campo drove the short distance from the school to the crash site and was among those who helped.
“I didn’t know what I was going to see. I honestly thought I’d be just be there comforting some distressed kids who had been in been a minor collision,” Ms Campo said.
“I didn’t ever expect to see that and hope I never see that again.”
Police said the truck hit the rear of the school bus and caused it to overturn at an intersection in Eynesbury, which is a semi-rural community west of Melbourne.
Head injuries, arm amputations and suspected spinal injuries were reported by a hospital official.
A total of 21 children were initially taken by ambulance from the scene for medical care and seven of them remained in hospital on Wednesday.
One of the children was in intensive care, Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne chief executive Bernadette McDonald said, noting the children range in age from five to 11.
She also said the hospital was assisting some extremely traumatised families, adding, “we’re working extremely hard to provide that trauma support and care that they will need not just now but in the coming weeks and months as well”.
Ms McDonald said one child lost an entire arm but she did not elaborate on how many of the injured had partial amputations.
About six children were temporarily trapped in the wrecked bus, the Country Fire Authority said. Emergency crews entered the bus through a skylight in its roof, and the smashed-out windshield was used as the main emergency exit.
Paramedics assessed dazed victims who did not appear to need hospitalisation in the grass surrounding the crash site.
The bus driver was taken to a hospital with minor injuries but was not admitted.
Police crash investigators were questioning the driver of the truck, which had damage to its front. The truck driver was not injured.
The children were returning after competing in an athletics event.