Bus crash near Arthur's Pass 'worst incident I have ever attended' video


Thirty-six people involved in bus crash at Otira Gorge, Arthur's Pass

Paramedics arriving at the "horrific" scene of a bus crash near Arthur's Pass found people with partially amputated feet and hands, head injuries and broken bones.

St John territory manager and incident commander Kerry Mitchell said Thursday's crash between a car and bus in the Otira Gorge, involving 36 people, was "definitely the worst incident I have ever attended".

"Certainly the biggest, with the most patients I have ever seen at any one scene," he said.

A rolled over bus, which collided with a van near Arthur's Pass, left dozens injured.
Joanne Carroll

A rolled over bus, which collided with a van near Arthur's Pass, left dozens injured.

It was "manageable chaos" thanks the the combined efforts of the emergency services, Mitchell said.

Four tourists injured in the crash have been discharged from hospital, but two remain in critical condition.

Eight people were taken to Christchurch Hospital, seven by helicopter and one by road, and eight were taken to Grey Base Hospital in Greymouth with minor or moderate injuries.

The scene of a bus crash in Otira Gorge.
Joanne Carroll

The scene of a bus crash in Otira Gorge.

It is understood the people in the car were tourists from Europe and the people in the bus were a tour group from Asia..

Mitchell said one person was trapped between the coach and the road. The Fire Service used jacks and digging equipment to get them out.

Injuries included "broken bones, soft tissue injuries, crush injuries, partial traumatic amputations and head injuries".

Accident victims arrive at Hagley Park in Christchurch from a crash near Arthur's Pass.
Stacy Squires

Accident victims arrive at Hagley Park in Christchurch from a crash near Arthur's Pass.

The coach was about a metre away from the edge of the gorge and struck the road barrier about two metres from where it ended, he said.

Ad Feedback

"If the bus had been a little bit further to the left, there would be a very different story today."

Bus and Coach Association of New Zealand president Alister McDermott said the coach was operated by Lincoln firm Travlon Coachlines.


Holiday goers are eagerly waiting for the road to re-open after a bus collided with a car in Otira Gorge, near Arthur's Pass.

Travlon staff declined to comment.

People close to the company said staff are "devastated" and "in shock".

"It is the worst thing that could happen to a coach operator. There is nothing worse," said one friend of the company owner.

Paramedics load patients into helicopters at the scene of a bus crash in Otira Gorge.
Joanne Carroll

Paramedics load patients into helicopters at the scene of a bus crash in Otira Gorge.

Mitchell praised members of the public who helped injured people at the scene before emergency services arrived.

"We were very fortunate in that there were a lot of members of the public that pitched in and helped.

"There was such a huge outpouring of assistance from the public. It is really reassuring to know that when the chips are down, Kiwis will help."

Ambulances at Hagley Park in Christchurch take patients injured in a crash near Arthur's Pass.
Stacy Squires

Ambulances at Hagley Park in Christchurch take patients injured in a crash near Arthur's Pass.

The crash happened on Windy Corner towards the bottom of the steep part of Otira Gorge. Motorists helped those trapped before emergency services arrived.

"There were nurses there and people with medical backgrounds which was really lucky," said Department of Conservation senior ranger Chris Stewart, who was one of the first people at the scene.

Geoff Cloake and wife Marthy, who were also quick to arrive on the scene, said it was amazing how other motorists stopped to help. Two men on motorcycles had broken the bus's window and had lifted people free.

Traffic banked up behind the crash scene.
Jodi Gauci

Traffic banked up behind the crash scene.

"I ran back to ask everyone in the line of cars if they knew first aid or had a first aid kit. I brought my first aid kit up and tried to administer first aid," Geoff Cloake said. "It was very hard to communicate because they didn't speak English. There was a woman interpreting Mandarin but she said they didn't all speak Mandarin. "

Marthy Cloake, a former nurse, looked after a critically-injured man.

"It was heartening to see how people responded. Each injured person had a team looking after them. People were giving out water and sunscreen looking after the carers too, " she said.

"There were so many people, so many injured and in shock. They were lucky they didn't go over the bank," she said.

The road – one of the main routes to the West Coast – was closed for several hours while emergency services dealt with the accident.

The police serious crash unit is investigating the cause of the accident. It would consider all potential causes, including the possibility of a mechanical failure on the bus, a police spokeswoman said.

 - Stuff


Ad Feedback
special offers

Gunman 'likely dead' video

A house reportedly belonging to the gunman could be seen on fire from outside the cordon.

Police say gunman who shot dead two women in rural Northland is "very unlikely" to have survived after house went up in flames.

Seizures and deaths escalate video

Police seized 50 synthetic cannabis bags from a Ranui, west Auckland address earlier this week.

As an eight person dies related to synthetic cannabis use, police reveal large drug seizures.

Auckland rugby kicking ace heads south

Ponsonby's Willie Talataina-Mu will play rugby for Southland in 2017, pictured doing chin-ups at the velodrome training gym.

From Ponsonby to Invercargill for one of Auckland's top club rugby's top points scorers.

WWI memorial rescued

The Auckland War Memorial Museum will sit above the proposed WWI memorial.

Councillor booted off war memorial decision-making group as mayor Phil Goff takes over.


Kiwi dies while walking in US

Hastings man Jonny Russell, 36, died unexpectedly in Colorado on Sunday.

Jonny Russell, 36, was walking along a footpath when he collapsed in Colorado.

Caught twice in a week

Caught drunk driving twice in a week he was both times more than four times the legal limit.

Driver caught more than five times over the limit was on his way to get more booze.

Council under 'urgent' investigation

Wellington City Council is being investigated by the Ombudsman over its failure to release information on the ...

Ombudsman probing Wellington City Council's refusal to release Shelly Bay info.

Drink driver charged over crash

Sione "Bah" Tuiano with his daughter, Anne, 5.

Man, 35, charged over crash which killed rugby man Sione "Bah" Tuiano.


The last person to see Michael

David Benbow outside his house in Halswell on Wednesday.

The prison guard at the centre of the missing builder inquiry has talked about when he last saw him.

More rain, snow ahead

The Heathcote River in flood on Saturday. More rain is expected in Christchurch.

Repeated storms hitting NZ are part of a bigger weather pattern that is not letting up yet, forecasters say.

City rents back at 2012 levels

Rents have been dropping in Christchurch for over two years.

Rents are continuing to tumble and are now back where they were five years ago.

Queues for hours video

Adrian Allen loads firewood into his vehicle at City Firewood. He had a big load delivered after Christmas but has burnt ...

Hundreds of people queued for hours to buy firewood as harsh wintry conditions loom.


No sea, no problem for cup visit video

Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton with year eight student Daniel Over, 14.

Grant Dalton stopped by on Wednesday to share the success with a Te Kauwhata school.

Creepy cop's betrayal

Sergeant Gregory David Waters, 53, appeared in Hamilton District Court on Wednesday after earlier being found guilty by ...

The police sergeant was there to teach self-defence but he indecently assaulted a vulnerable woman.

Waikato DHB boss a no-show

Waikato DHB chairman Bob Simcock is disappointed a "confidential human resource issue" was leaked to the media.

Waikato health boss goes on leave as questions remain over spending habits.

Driving eases family's struggle

Anita Annan, 4, suffers from a progressive illness affecting her nervous system.

When you're dealt a heart-breaking hand, sometimes little things make a big difference.


Saved with minutes to spare

The Taranaki Rescue Helicopter Trust rescued two people who fell on Mt Taranaki on Tuesday.

Two tourists are alive because of a huge team effort to rescue them on Mt Taranaki.

Ombudsman weighs in

Lee Hurley's complaint about New Zealand Transport Agency delays in processing his service provider application is being ...

Driving trainer says he wants $100,000 compensation from Government department.

Digital doctor double-up

A week ago Patea had no doctor. Now there's two digital doctor services open.

Patea now has two virtual services offering medical help while the hunt for new GPs carries on.

Maori Land Court date for hapu

A hearing in the Maori Land Court will be held on August 10, involving the Ngati Te Whiti Whenua Topu Trust.

Ngati Te Whiti hapu members will appear before a Maori Land Court judge next month.


Crash metres from Plaza

Two cars crashed at a busy intersection outside the front doors of The Plaza on Wednesday afternoon.

Afternoon traffic disrupted by fender bender in Palmerston North.

Gorge health concerns

Another slip fell on the already-closed Manawatu Gorge road at the weekend.

As the ambulances drive over the top of the cliff, patients have to wait longer.

Closure an opportunity

The Manawatu Gorge is closed indefinitely.

A "significantly more resilient route" is expected if the gorge will never reopen.

Privacy complaints over emails

Christine Toms is disappointed her emails were being intercepted by Horowhenua District Council's chief executive.

Under-fire Horowhenua council could face privacy probe.


10 underrated NZ towns

Paeroa should be world famous in NZ for more than L&P.

Motueka and Murchison feature on a list of towns worth your while.

Dying man fulfills wish

Doug Murcott and Sally Tolliday on their wedding day at the Nelson Tasman Hospice.

Doug Murcott loses his fight with cancer days after fulfilling his wish to marry his partner.

New direct flight route

Originair will offer direct flights between New Plymouth and Nelson from late-September.

Nelson and New Plymouth are to have a direct air link.

Anatomy of a shooting

Ford Hurinui who was shot by Police in Motueka on August 20, 2015.

Holding a shotgun and surrounded by police Ford Hurinui was "prepared to die".


Scoring a bullseye

Despite badly injuring her hand six months ago Shannon Campbell has been selected to play at the Australasian Championships.

A darts player left with a horrific injury to her hand has beaten the odds to become one of New Zealand's top players.

Cycle trail will happen - advocate

A cycleway will run along the edge of this damaged stretch of SH1, just south of Ohau Point, as part of $231 million of ...

Government chips in to build stretch around Ohau Point, deemed the most difficult section.

Time to fix 'scary' highway

The section of State Highway 6 from Okaramio to Havelock is the most dangerous stretch on the Blenheim to Nelson road, ...

The road from Blenheim to Nelson has claimed 12 lives in 10 years. Now it's a priority.

Boat ramp back in action

Now the slipway has been excavated, it takes the Coastguard boat Kaikoura Rescue half the time to respond to an emergency.

Eight months post-quake and the Coastguard Kaikoura ramp at South Bay has been officially re-opened.

South Canterbury

More rain and snow on way

Federated Farmers meat and fibre president Miles Anderson has advised farmers to be prepared for the predicted bad weather.

Farming leader questions how much more rain water-logged soil can handle.

Infected cows must go

Labour spokesman for primary industries Damien O'Connor is calling for all the cows on the property where Mycoplasma ...

The 150 stricken cattle on a South Canterbury farm should be put down, MP says.

Luxton to meet with ECan

Rangitata Labour Party candidate Jo Luxton.

Labour candidate to push ahead with efforts to have ECan change woodburner policies.

Council hotly denies claims

A smoky chimney in Timaru.

ECan shoots down claim by former policeman it could be caught by peeping tom rule.


Resident wants to beautify wharf

Bluff resident Cherie Chapman stands near the closed Bluff Wharf which she wants to see it beautified and made open to ...

Bluff resident Cherie Chapman has put her case to the Bluff Community Board to restore the old Bluff wharf and return it to the public.

Let sleeping seals lie

The seal is believed to have travelled up the nearby Waiau river, and was found about 10kms from the sea.

DOC is asking the public to trust its judgement when it comes to dealing with wild animals.

MPI proposing changes

10082016. News.Kavinda Herath. Southland Times/FairfaxNZ-Uplift of oysters to tanker in  Big Glory Bay, Stewart Island today

MPI is hosting a public meeting about proposed changes to the aquaculture industry.

Coroner reminds hunters of gun safety after death

Cromwell man Garry Tall, 61, was killed in a hunting accident on the Old Woman Range in March 2016.

Cromwell man Garry Tall was an experienced hunter but on March 3, 2016, he died after shooting himself in the stomach after a hunt.

Ad Feedback