Bus lane victim runs the company

SOPHIE SPEER, PAUL EASTON AND SHABNAM DASTGHEIB
Last updated 08:43 20/07/2012

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A man hit by a bus in central Wellington is a director of the company responsible for running the city's bus network.

Tim Brown suffered severe head injuries and a collapsed lung after being run over near Mercer St about 1pm yesterday.

He remained in a serious condition in Wellington Hospital's intensive care unit this morning.

Mr Brown is a director of NZ Bus, which runs Wellington's buses. He is also a key member of the management team at Infratil, which owns NZ Bus.

Police said it appeared Mr Brown was crossing the street when he was hit by the corner of the bus.

It happened just metres from where Venessa Green, 40, of Newtown, was struck and killed by a bus in Willis St last June while out jogging.

Bystanders gave Mr Brown CPR on the side of the road as other passersby tried to shield the scene with blankets and towels.

One witness, retired accountant Graham McCready, said Mr Brown went under the front wheel and the first of the rear wheels.

"The bus stopped and he was jammed between the two wheels so people tried to pull him out of there and applied CPR."

The bus driver appeared to be in shock, and radioed for help. He told passengers they needed to get off and transfer to another bus because he had to stay to speak to police.

It is understood the bus was travelling well below the speed limit.

Kevin O'Sullivan, Wellington branch secretary of the Tramways Union, said this morning that the driver had been stood down on full pay.

"He has been given the full support of the union and management. He is pretty cut up about the accident. He too is a victim in this situation," Mr O'Sullivan said.

Construction work along Willis St may have contributed to the crash, Mr McCready said.

"It's confusing, there aren't many places to cross and pedestrians are always hustling across. The guy . . . must have got caught between lights."

Infratil chairman David Newman said last night his thoughts were with Mr Brown and his family.

"It's a dreadful thing to happen, and we are just hoping for a speedy recovery."

He was not aware of the circumstances of the accident. "It's a very unfortunate accident, whom ever it happens to."

There have been at least 10 accidents involving buses and pedestrians since Wellington City Council changed the routes to allow buses through Manners Mall two years ago.

Last year, Willis St was named the city's third worst spot for pedestrian injuries in the past five years.

An NZTA report revealed pedestrians were injured in 17 crashes on the street between January 2006 and December 2010.

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Acting Wellington Mayor Ian McKinnon said his thoughts were with the victim.

He pointed out that the council had introduced several safety measures, including lowering the speed limit in the central city to 30kmh, improving sight lines, installing a new controlled crossing in Willis St, and speed signs to remind drivers. More safety measures were planned.

“Invariably, a number of issues are involved in any accident, but I would encourage all Wellingtonians to make use of controlled pedestrian crossings,” he said. Earlier in the day a woman suffered minor injuries after being knocked down by a car in Lambton Quay.

- The Dominion Post

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