Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Police to interview young witnesses of boy hit by bus

Several children, including his two brothers, witnessed the incident. Photo / Keira Stephenson
Several children, including his two brothers, witnessed the incident. Photo / Keira Stephenson

Children who saw a five-year-old boy hit and killed by a school bus yesterday will be asked to revisit the traumatic incident when they are interviewed by police tomorrow.

Mahuri Bettjeman-Manawatu had just got off the bus in his hometown of Hector, 30 minutes north of Westport on the West Coast, when he was hit as he walked home.

Several children, including his two brothers, witnessed the incident.

Detective Mal Haughey, of Westport police, said today's focus had been on providing support to traumatised children, the bus driver and Mahuri's family.

"Our main priority was to get in there and settle things down. Tomorrow we intend to kick off with some formal interviews of people who may be witnesses to the incident," he said.

"Certainly there were more children around than adults."

The bus driver was interviewed today.

James Coleman, 19, said he was still in shock having seen the death of Granity School pupil Mahuri, who he had known all his life.

"Because my brothers get off the school bus I was watching them out the window. I heard one of the kids yell 'look out for the bus' and (Mahuri's) brother tried to stop him but he didn't get to him in time."

James brought Mahuri's brothers and some other children inside, made them cold drinks and put cartoons on.

"His brothers were pretty scared. They were just crying and worried about him, they wanted us to go and help him."

Mahuri's distraught mother arrived shortly afterwards.

James said Mahuri was "a cool kid".

"They used to go down the creek, him and his brothers, and catch eels and that sort of thing.

"I went round there a couple of times. He was just a happy little kid. He'd make me coffees and stuff."

Granity School principal Megan Rich described the incident as every parent's worst nightmare.

The school has about 35 students in two classes. The Ministry of Education has sent a traumatic incident team and those involved have been referred to Victim Support.

The school's latest ERO report described it as having a "caring and inclusive school culture" where staff know students and their families well.

Mahuri's funeral is expected to take place in Kaikoura, where his father is from, later this week.

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n6 at 30 Jul 2014 20:35:34 Processing Time: 975ms