Fairlie rallies to help crash victims of bus crash

Fairlie Volunteer Fire Brigade firefighter Jeff Haugh, school bus driver Astrid Johns and firefighter Sam Haugh were ...

Fairlie Volunteer Fire Brigade firefighter Jeff Haugh, school bus driver Astrid Johns and firefighter Sam Haugh were among those who helped in the wake of a tourist bus crash on Monday.

People from Fairlie were the epitome of community spirit when they pulled together to help the victims of a bus crash.

The crash happened about five kilometres north of the South Canterbury township on Monday morning. 

One person was flown to Dunedin Hospital with serious injuries and another was moderately injured when the bus rolled off the road on the Geraldine-Fairlie Highway (State Highway 79).

Another four people sustained minor injuries. 

READ MORE: Six injured in bus crash

Local emergency services staff, medical staff, a bus driver and others from the community were first on the scene, helping to transport and look after tourists affected by the crash.

School bus driver Astrid Johns was at an appointment when she heard of the crash. She dropped tools to help transport the uninjured passengers back into Fairlie. 

She said she was called by volunteer firefighter Jeff Haugh to help transport 10 tourists to the St Johns Hall in Fairlie.  

"I just jumped in the bus, got there, and took them to the centre."

A dairy owner provided biscuits and milk for cups of tea and another woman provided some baking which was "very cool". 

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"It's just one of those things you do, it's a great bunch of people and a fantastic community." 

Fairlie Medical Centre GP Dr Paula Hyde used her car to take the most injured patient to the centre. The patient was subsequently flown to Dunedin Hospital.

The other injured patients were transported to the centre by ambulance.

It was "freezing cold" at the scene and there was glass all over the road, as "all the windows had smashed" in the crash, she said.  

A big tarpaulin was used to help keep the tourists warm before they got changed into dry clothes at the town's hall.  

Fairlie Volunteer Fire Brigade station officer Wayne Dixon said there were some "very lucky people" who escaped the crash uninjured. 

Local emergency services not long ago had training exercises as to what to do to attend to incidents, such as bus crashes.

"It was really good we all pulled together and test our services."  

Sergeant Mike van der Heyden, of Temuka, said it appeared the Mitsubishi Fuso towing a luggage trailer crossed the road before rolling on to its side.

Van der Heyden said most passengers had managed to get out of the bus before the ambulance arrived at the scene. 

St John South Canterbury Territory manager Darryn Grigsby said the locals that looked after the tourist had performed "an amazing job". 

Haugh said it was all part of being on the Fairlie Fire Brigade and being in the Fairlie community: everyone "pulled together" when needed. 

It was believed a new bus and driver were arranged to take the tourists on their way.

 - Stuff


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