He was our little man - distraught mum
The devastated mother of a 5-year-old boy killed by his school bus in a remote West Coast town has spoken of the tragic loss of ''our little man''.
Mahuri Bettjeman-Manawatu was hit by the bus he had hopped off only moments earlier as it turned a corner in the small coastal town of Hector, north of Westport, on Tuesday afternoon.
''He'll always be missed,'' his weeping mother, Terri-lee Bettjeman, said today.
''He was our little man. It's left a huge hole.''
The family has travelled to Kaikoura for Mahuri's funeral at the marae on Saturday.
His father, Jamie Manawatu, is originally from there.
Mahuri and his two brothers, aged about 7 and 8, were dropped off several metres from the corner by the small Ritchies bus about 3.10pm on Tuesday, along with about six or seven other Granity School pupils.
A close family friend, James Coleman, watched in horror from his house as the bus struck Mahuri, who had run across the road in front of the bus.
''I realised his brother was trying to grab him but it didn't look like he'd make it. Then I heard the boom.''
Coleman gathered the traumatised brothers and other pupils into his home and gave them drinks while their families came to collect them.
Bettjeman said Mahuri's two brothers were coping ''OK''.
''We are surrounded by family and friends.''
She did not want to discuss what had happened.
Police plan to begin interviewing children at Granity School today after finishing their examination of the scene of the fatal crash and the school bus.
Video interviews would be done with at least four children who may have seen the accident, police said.
Eleven children had got off the bus when it stopped at the corner of Curtis and Greenfield streets.
A specialist support team had been sent to the school by the Education Ministry.
Police have interviewed the bus driver, who they said had stopped and helped at the scene and had continued to be helpful with their investigation.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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