A group of children say they are grateful to their elderly
school bus driver who managed to pull over safely even though
he was bleeding from the stomach after a metal pole flew
through the windscreen.
Sam Fyfe, who is in his 70s, was expected to undergo surgery
in Auckland Hospital today after the incident on a busy road
in Whangarei after school on Monday.
Mr Fyfe was hit with a 2kg piece of scaffolding which fell
from a truck on Onerahi Rd and flew through the windscreen of
the full school bus.
Despite being seriously injured, Mr Fyfe pulled the bus over
to the side of the road and stopped without any of his 38
passengers or other road users being hurt.
Whangarei Girls' High School student Caitlyn Burrell, 12, was
sitting directly behind Mr Fyfe on the NorthBus-operated
"I didn't see much but this truck was passing us and it
looked like [the driver] was holding a pole out the window,"
The window separating her from the driver smashed and she
banged her head as she ducked to avoid glass spraying into
"I guess it just came through the windscreen and hit the bus
driver. I thought we would roll down a bank but he pulled
over to the side."
She said the impact to the driver had been "like a punch to
the stomach with a 2kg pole" and she was amazed he had
managed to stop safely.
"I asked him if it was hard for him to breathe and he said
Caitlyn placed a shirt over Mr Fyfe's bleeding stomach and
called an ambulance.
Another student had a panic attack and couldn't move or
Puke Hau, 13, rushed outside to wave down passing vehicles to
help with the chaotic situation.
"Heaps of people were screaming," she said.
Another bus stopped and the driver came to their aid while
another girl, 14-year-old Sam Calver, also did her bit to
"It was scary. Me and my friends were closer to the back and
we were just talking and then we heard a smash," Sam said.
"Glass went flying all around the front area and we didn't
exactly know what happened at first. Caitlyn was on the phone
talking to the ambulance and she was kind of freaking out a
little bit so I took the phone off her and started talking to
The police officers in charge of the case could not be
reached for comment today but Shane McMahon, chief executive
of NZBus which owns NorthBus, said the driver of the truck
had not stopped and was yet to be located.
It was not known whether they were aware of the incident.
Mr McMahon said he could not speak highly enough of the
driver he described as "a humble hero".
"He's done a fantastic job bringing the bus to a halt. You
don't want to think about what might have happened if it
hadn't been for this fellow's presence of mind," Mr McMahon
When he visited Mr Fyfe in hospital yesterday, his first
concern was "whether the kids on the bus were all okay," Mr
He asked his boss to pass on his thanks to the Whangarei
Boys' High and Girls' High School passengers who took care of
him before other help and then a St John ambulance arrived.
The driver's actions had prevented a terrible accident, Mr
"These guys are experienced and there's no substitute for
that. They also develop a bond with those students they see
every day, and the way those kids reacted in this case
The company had sent its own thanks through the schools,
praising the students' actions.
- Additional reporting Northern Advocate