Driver details horror school bus crash: court

Truck driver Jamie Gleeson is facing a committal hearing over allegations he drove dangerously before a school bus crash. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

A school bus driver has detailed the moment he regained consciousness and began to help students following a horrific crash in Melbourne’s west.

Graham Stanley was driving children home from Exford Primary School on Melbourne’s north west fringe when his bus rolled in the afternoon of May 16 last year.

He recounted memories from the crash in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Monday as truck driver Jamie Gleeson, 50, faces a committal hearing which will decide if the dangerous driving case goes to trial.

Prosecutors allege the bus, which was carrying 45 primary school students, was struck from behind while attempting to turn at the intersection of Exford Rd and Murphys Rd about 3.45pm.

Jamie Gleeson (centre) is facing a committal hearing at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

Dozens of students were injured in the incident, ranging from minor scratches to life-threatening injuries and amputations.

Sitting in the witness box, Mr Stanley told the court he slowed as he approached the intersection but could not remember if he made a complete stop.

He said he glanced in his mirror, seeing two headlights approaching from behind and tried to accelerate around the corner.

He told the court he did not remember hearing any brakes squealing, but there was a lot of noise coming from the energetic students.

“I could not push (the pedal) any harder because the turn was too tight,” he said.

The incident prompted a major response from emergency services. Picture: Supplied/ 7 NEWS
The incident prompted a major response from emergency services. Picture: Supplied/ 7 NEWS

The court was told he heard a “crunch and glass smashing” as the bus was struck, and believes he momentarily lost consciousness.

Mr Stanley suffered an ankle injury, head laceration and back pain, but said he woke up lying on the side of the bus and began helping extract students through the emergency hatch.

“My mind went straight to the kids in the back,” he said.

Jamie Gleeson had been a truck driver for 18 years. Picture: Facebook
Jamie Gleeson had been a truck driver for 18 years. Picture: Facebook

At a court hearing a day after the incident, police alleged Mr Gleeson had just finished a shift driving clay and was driving home at about 70km/h when the crash occurred.

He allegedly stopped and assisted the injured students, later telling police there was a “flicker in the trees from sunlight”.

“Next thing I know the bus in front slowed,” he allegedly said.

“I tried to take evasive action but I couldn’t.”

Both Mr Stanley and another driver, David Woods, told the court it was a sunny afternoon, but didn’t experience any “sun flickers”.

“I didn’t have any visibility issues but it was a sunny day,” Mr Woods said.

Mr Woods, who was driving behind Mr Gleeson’s truck, said did not see any breaking or indicating lights from the school bus.

The court was told the speed limit on Exford Rd near the crash site had since been dropped to 40km/h.

Mr Gleeson is charged with 11 offences including four counts of dangerous driving causing serious injury.

The committal hearing, which is expected to run over two days, continues.