Bus victim still in serious condition
TOM HUNT, LANE NICHOLS, HANK SCHOUTEN, BLAIR ENSOR AND SOPHIE SPEER AND ELLE HUNT
Two days after a director of the company responsible for running Wellington's bus network was hit by a bus, he remains in a serious condition in intensive care.
Tim Brown suffered head injuries and a collapsed lung after being run over near Mercer St about 1pm on Thursday.
A Capital & Coast District Health Board confirmed he remianed in a serious condition in Wellington Hospital's intensive care unit this afternoon.
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.
Sergeant Graeme Bergh said it was not believed Mr Brown was using a cellphone or other device at the time of the crash.
Estimates put the buses speed at less than 20kmh.
Mr Brown was only run over by the buses front wheel, he said.
Police were investigating whether his view of the bus was obstructed by trees and poles in the area, he said.
"It's possible depending on how fast he was going and the angle he was taking it [the cross] at."
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.
Marlene Green, mother of Venessa Green, who was killed after being hit by a bus in Willis St last year, said she was at a loss to explain why nothing had been done to make the area safer for pedestrians.
"It makes me so angry, it should never had ever been changed from a one way system, not such a busy area like this with high foot traffic. It should have been left as a one way system so that people [understood] the flow of traffic. It is far to confusing with all these lanes."
Mrs Green said she and her husband, Alan, did not want any other family to go through what they did.
"The council knew for a very long time before and never [did] anything about it. We have lost a beautiful, loving and caring daughter who we will never be able to love and hold in our arms again.
"Please don't let it happen to someone else's loved one. A broken heart is not easy to deal with."
NZ Bus chief executive Zane Fulljames said the thoughts and prayers of his team were with Tim and his family.
"We are focused on supporting the driver and his colleagues at Go Wellington, have onsite counselling services available to all staff and are working with the authorities as we commence our investigation into the cause of this terrible accident."
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.
Wellington branch secretary of the Tramways Union, Kevin O'Sullivan, said 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.
Mr McCready said construction work along Willis St may have contributed to the crash.
"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 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."
Earlier on Thursday a woman was knocked down by a car on Lambton Quay and suffered minor injuries.
There have been at least 10 accidents involving buses and pedestrians since Wellington City Council changed theroutes 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.
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.
PEDESTRIANS URGED TO PAY MORE ATTENTION
Wellington retailers on the inner-city bus route say pedestrians need to pay more attention when crossing the road.
Conservation Department Wellington visitor centre ranger Robert Hawke, 63, said pedestrians did not take notice of the buses.
"It's such a narrow gap. If it was a wider road, people might think twice. They think, 'It's my road. You've got to stop for me.' We look on and just cringe."
Stephane Rorlier, 25, of Crepes a Go-Go, said people crossed the road very carelessly. "Often the drivers don't see them, and have to sound the horn or stop very quickly."
Putting up barriers could be a good idea, she said. "When you want to cross the road to go into a shop on the other side . . . you're not going to walk 50 metres to the pedestrian crossing."
Chris Wilkinson, 46, First Retail managing director, said retailers faced enough challenges without more barriers on the street. "We need to look at the frequency of buses. Often they go past with just three people on board. And drivers need to be more aware of their speed; some aren't keeping to 30kmh."
Burger Fresh owner Suresh Bakshi, 59, said the accidents were not the fault of bus drivers. "It's the responsibility of the people to be careful. The council has told people to look left and right, on both sides of the road."
Zariah Toimata, 19, of Ziera Shoes, said she saw accidents and near-misses all the time. "Drivers should keep to the speed limit as well. I always used to check left and right before crossing the road but, since the accident on Thursday, I now wait for the light."
Police are asking for witnesses to come forward or those with any related information to contact Sergeant Graeme Burgh on 381 2000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Dominion Post