Parents may fly to crash victims

By John Cousins

Parents of the worst injured victims of the fatal bus crash in Kenya could be flown to Nairobi by Bethlehem College if it turned out their children were in for a long stay in hospital.

College principal Eoin Crosbie said the more seriously injured students required more time for healing.

He was responding to an inquiry from the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend about how long student Aneka Jones could end up in hospital if she was unable to be medivaced back to New Zealand, and whether she could be joined by her parents in Nairobi. She suffered a dislocated hip and fractured pelvis.

Mr Crosbie replied "We are considering flying parents over, depending on the outcomes of the issues you raise."

The accident happened early afternoon Kenya time on Wednesday and killed the Nairobi driver Christopher Mmata.

Ex-college student Caitlin Dickson died at the accident scene, Tauranga mother-of-10 Grace Johnston died on the way to hospital and her husband Brian died after an operation.

The mother of one of the Bethlehem College girls who survived the crash told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend that it was a miracle anyone survived.

Sheila Tippett, whose daughter Laura was badly knocked around when the minibus rolled into a ditch, said when she spoke to Laura on Thursday night she found out that her daughter was more bruised and battered than her parents had first thought.

Laura has been on a drip for pain relief and food because her abdomen was too sore for her to eat. She also suffered severe bruising to her arms, cuts to her feet that needed stitches and a big bump to the head.

"Looking at the wreckage of the minivan, it was a miracle that any of them survived."

It was uncertain whether Laura would be flown home with the more able-bodied members of the group this weekend.

Laura was flown by medivac yesterday from Aga Khan Hospital in western Kenya to Nairobi, but because she  had been lying down the whole time since the accident, there was a question mark around whether she would be up for the flight.

"They will have to make the call on her quite soon."

She said Laura assured them she was all right but Mrs Tippett said "all right" was a relative term compared with those who did not make it through the crash.

Mrs Tippett said her daughter and the others were thinking of the bigger picture and of those who had died.

"They are encouraging each other. We are very proud of our kids," she said.

Another parent, Tim Fellows, whose son David received a bump to the head, said he would be in the first batch home and could arrive back in New Zealand on Monday.

He understood that New Zealand consular staff from Pretoria in South Africa and Cairo in Egypt had taken charge to some degree. What happened would depend on what they said, along with advice from the doctors in Nairobi.

"A bit of information has come through, but not a whole lot."

Mr Fellows said it had been a very traumatic experience for the survivors and they were doing incredibly well.

When he spoke to his son on Thursday night, David said something which Mr Fellows felt was quite significant.

"He said that we must also talk about what we were doing before the accident, and what they had been able to achieve."

The group, which was due to arrive back in New Zealand on Monday even if the accident had not happened, were building a classroom block at the Ark Quest Education Centre in Mahanga.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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