A truck driver is on bail as several children await surgeries for injuries sustained in a bus crash in Melbourne’s west.
Police are investigating whether 49-year-old Jamie Gleeson, from Balliang East, was distracted before the truck he was driving collided with a bus carrying 46 children from Exford Primary School at nearby Eynesbury on Tuesday.
Prosecutors did not oppose his application for bail at Melbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
Investigators are trying to piece together what caused the collision, with Victoria Police Superintendent Michael Cruse flagging inattention was one line of inquiry.
“If people are listening to me at home, please speak to other road users … and remind them of the dangers,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“Some of the injuries are truly life-changing, and this incident was avoidable, as so many of the collisions that police and other emergency services attend to (are).”
Eighteen children were taken to the Royal Children’s and Sunshine hospitals after the crash, with seven seriously injured.
The Royal Children’s Hospital received nine patients aged five to 11, including two who were discharged after treatment at the emergency department.
As of Wednesday, seven patients remained in the Royal Children’s, including one in intensive care. All were in a stable condition.
The children sustained multiple and traumatic injuries ranging from partial to complete amputations, crushed limbs and severe lacerations to their heads and bodies.
Two were still to go into surgery as of Wednesday afternoon. Four of the more seriously injured will require further surgeries.
Several students were trapped inside the tipped-over bus before witnesses and emergency workers pulled them free, triaging them at the scene.
Tradesman Dean Eastway, who helped free some of the children, described finding students screaming and pinned down.
“It’s worse today, hearing about all the injuries,” he told Nine News.
Supt Cruse said passers-by who stopped to help were heroic and their actions potentially prevented further injuries.
“At the time that the bus overturned, I understand that there was diesel leaking from the bus,” he said.
“That would be a difficult scene for a passerby to come across and then to have acted the way they did is really admirable.”
Gleeson has been charged with four counts of dangerous driving causing serious injury.
Lifeline 13 11 14
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (for people aged 5 to 25)