LUCKY ESCAPE: Southern Cross K-12 student Tegan Stobart gets a hug from a friend and support from her father John, left, at Bal
LUCKY ESCAPE: Southern Cross K-12 student Tegan Stobart gets a hug from a friend and support from her father John, left, at Bal

Eleven studentsinjured in Ballina bus crash

By BREE PRICE

bprice@northernstar.com.au

ELEVEN schoolchildren were taken to hospital and two women were seriously injured after a collision involving a school bus and a car at East Ballina yesterday.

The Blanch's Bus Service bus was carrying 39 Southern Cross K-12 students travelling south on Angels Beach Drive at 8.30am when it collided with a white sedan at the Coast Road intersection.

The 23-year-old driver, from Suffolk Park, and the 23-year-old passenger, from Lennox Head, were trapped in the vehicle for a short time before being airlifted to Lismore Base Hospital.

The students, who were travelling from Lennox Head, were taken to Ballina District Hospital by ambulance with neck and shoulder injuries.

The crash comes only a month after a chartered bus carrying a Ballina High School AFL team collided head-on with a car near Coffs Harbour, killing four people in the car.

Outside the hospital yesterday concerned parents and students were calling for the introduction of compulsory seat belts on buses.

Tegan Stobart, 16, of Lennox Head, said a seat belt could have saved her from being thrown against the bus window and the seat in front.

"I was sitting with my back against the window listening to my discman. I didn't see the car pull out," she said.

"I heard the brakes screech and my head smacked into the metal pole dividing the windows.

"Then my head went forward and into the seat in front of me.

"I've got bad pains in my lower back and my jaw hurts when I talk.

"Most people who were injured were sitting sideways.

"A seat belt would stop us from moving forward and sitting side-on."

Cassie Durford's 12-year-old daughter Brooke is in a neck brace as a result of the accident.

Ms Durford, of Lennox Head, said seat belts on school buses were a must.

"They are in other buses, like coaches. Brooke hit her chin on the seat in front ? seat belts should be a priority," she said.

Tegan's father, John Stobart, agreed.

"I think it's a good idea and if there were lap-sash seat belts I would think all the kids would wear them."

Police are investigating the incident.



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