Bus driver sentenced after Taumaranui crash

A bus driver who crashed a bus full of Wanganui college students, teachers and parents near Taumaranui has been given community work and disqualified from driving.

Raymond Hina, 57, was sentenced today on seven counts of careless driving causing injury when he appeared in Whanganui District Court.

The accident happened on September 23 last year after witnesses saw the Hamilton-bound Tranzit bus speeding, and braking heavily on corners on the wet road.

Judge David Cameron said a retired policeman was driving behind the bus near Wanganui, and saw it accelerate away from him while he was travelling 100kmh.

"It had been drizzling with rain and the road was wet," the judge said.

"A truck driver had been following and he observed the bus braking heavily on slight bends and down hills, causing him concern - such that he pulled back and increased his following distance."

On a moderate left hand bend on State Highway 4 near Piriaka, Hina lost control of the bus, sending it into a slide. The bus slid about 15 metres along a bank, with the rear end lifting up and coming back down again.

Judge Cameron said seven victims out of the total 40 passengers were taken to Taumaranui Hospital with various injuries, including a broken collarbone, lacerations and cuts requiring stitches, back pain, a sore shoulder and a concussion. They were all released later that day.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Rachel Willemsen said the victim impact statements spoke mainly of emotional harm.

Defence lawyer Roger Crowley said Hina had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

His client was popular with passengers, did regular driving training courses and took "great pride in his work".

Judge Cameron said he needed to deter others from carelessness, "particularly when in charge of a bus full of people".

"It seems to me there's an extra onus on someone in that situation to be cautious."

He sentenced Hina to 80 hours' community work, and disqualified him from driving for six months.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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