Lone pine stops death plunge

21:32, Oct 29 2013
Bus that nearly plunged into Shotover River
NEAR THING: Only a single pine tree stopped this bus carrying 25 passengers from plummeting 50m into the Shotover River.

Only a single pine tree stopped a bus carrying 25 passengers from plummeting 50m into the Shotover River in Queenstown after it skidded in wet conditions yesterday afternoon.

Around noon, the Connectabus from Queenstown to Arrowtown skidded, failing to stop at the bottom of a hill near the Edith Cavell Bridge at Arthurs Pt township, 8km out of Queenstown.

The slide was only stopped by a tree on the clifftop above the Shotover River.

Distance from road to Shotover River
LONG FALL: Only a single pine tree stopped a bus carrying 25 passengers from plummeting 50m into the Shotover River.

"It was very wet and he [the driver] has locked up. He's just been able to stop. If he hadn't hit the tree we would be looking at a different scenario," said Constable Terry Wood of Queenstown police.

Four people were taken to hospital, one with a cut above their eye, others with bumps and bruises, police said.

Passengers said they were lucky.

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"If we didn't hit the tree we would have been down the bank, into the river. I think everyone was a bit stunned," said Di Harvey from Dunedin, who was travelling with her sister.

She and other passengers were taken to a cafe for tea and coffee.

"Once they got out and looked what could have happened they had a big gulp. You could see there was a bit of relief on their faces," Wood said.

Police are investigating the incident and are currently unsure if there were any mechanical issues with the bus.

Sunday Star Times