Driver charged over bus injury

SHANE COWLISHAW
Last updated 05:00 19/12/2011

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In a rare move, Wellington police have charged a bus driver with careless driving after an elderly passenger was left with a brain injury.

Molly Amon, 94, fell to the floor and hit her head while riding the No2 bus in Miramar in July.

She suffered a brain bleed and spent several weeks in Kenepuru Hospital recovering.

Some passengers on the bus believed Ms Amon was thrown to the ground when the bus moved off before she was seated, but Go Wellington said there were suggestions she had fainted.

Until the accident, Ms Amon had been working two part-time jobs as a house cleaner.

During her lifetime she worked in several countries around the world, and served with the air force during World War II.

Constable Cam Cross of the Wellington strategic traffic unit said police had charged the 43-year-old driver with careless driving causing injury.

He is due to appear in Wellington District Court next month.

Ms Amon's niece, Jocelyn Amon, said her aunt had suffered another fall in her home several weeks ago and broken her leg, putting her back in Kenepuru.

She was not particularly happy that the driver had been charged, as she would rather have seen the company take the blame.

"I think the only thing to do is to slow down these timetables ... but that's a big change for them. I'm sure people don't mind waiting another five minutes to get back to town."

However, she hoped the charge would encourage other drivers to pay more attention to elderly people.

NZ Bus chief operating officer Shane McMahon said the company investigated the incident earlier this year and the driver had received remedial training.

After talking with Ms Amon and her niece, two training programmes had been started to educate staff about safer ways to drive.

"If you drive in a smooth way it's a lot safer and a lot more comfortable for passengers."

He could not comment further on the incident while it was before the courts, he said.

Wellington Tramways Union president Nick Kelly said it was the first time a driver had been charged with injuring a passenger on a bus in the five years he had been involved in the sector.

Drivers had been fined for speeding and other infringements but it was rare for such a charge to be laid, he said.

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- The Dominion Post

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