Exford School Bus Crash: The Age's 7-Month Investigation Reveals Harrowing Details

On May 16, 2023, a school bus collided with a truck in Exford, Victoria, leaving children injured but no fatalities. The heroic rescue efforts of emergency responders saved many lives and highlighted the importance of road safety.

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Geeta Pillai
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Exford School Bus Crash: The Age's 7-Month Investigation Reveals Harrowing Details

Exford School Bus Crash: The Age's 7-Month Investigation Reveals Harrowing Details

On May 16, 2023, a school bus carrying 45 children collided with a truck in Exford, a town 40 kilometers west of Melbourne. The bus flipped onto its side, leaving some children unconscious and trapped with limbs under the steel.

The incident has left a lasting impact on the small town of Exford, and The Age spent seven months investigating the event, speaking to 11 schoolchildren, a dozen parents, and the rescuers to reconstruct the events.

The bus driver, Graham Stanley, had a good day at work and was driving the regular route when the truck, driven by Jamie Gleeson, collided with the bus. Stanley, with a broken ankle and injured back, refused to get in an ambulance until all 45 children were safe. Gleeson stopped, called emergency services, and reported himself to the police.

Firefighter Reg Stott and a convoy of tradesmen helped rescue the children, some of whom had to wait for the wreckage to be lifted before being rushed to the hospital. A large-scale multi-agency rescue operation was undertaken to save multiple casualties, which took several hours. Fortunately, there were no fatalities, but some of the children sustained injuries with permanent implications.

Why this matters: The Exford school bus crash not only deeply affected the lives of the children, families, and rescuers involved but also shook the entire community. It highlights the importance of road safety measures and the heroic efforts of emergency responders in the face of tragedy.

To recognize the exceptional leadership, professionalism, and dedication of the crews involved, members from the CFA, FRV, and VICSES received awards at a ceremony on April 20, 2024. The emergency services praised the interagency cooperation and the public's assistance at the confronting crash site, and commended the responders for their efforts in saving many young lives and offering comfort during the tragedy.

Key Takeaways

  • On May 16, 2023, a school bus collided with a truck in Exford, Victoria.
  • The bus flipped, leaving children injured and trapped; no fatalities occurred.
  • Rescuers, including firefighters and tradesmen, worked for hours to save the children.
  • The incident deeply affected the Exford community, highlighting road safety importance.
  • Emergency responders received awards for their heroic efforts and interagency cooperation.