Bevan Hurley

Bevan Hurley is the Herald on Sunday chief reporter.

Close call with sick bus driver

InterCity driver had an unblemished record. Photo / Michael Craig
InterCity driver had an unblemished record. Photo / Michael Craig

A seriously ill bus driver was allowed to continue taking a busload of passengers despite nearly causing an accident and sideswiping several cars.

One terrified passenger demanded to be let off the Tauranga to Auckland InterCity bus trip after the driver pulled out into traffic in Paeroa, narrowly avoiding a collision. The passenger phoned InterCity to complain after the first incident, but staff decided he was well enough to continue.

The bus is believed to have hit another car in Manukau, and then ran a red light in Nelson St, Auckland, before being pulled over by police. InterCity arranged a replacement driver, and passengers reached Auckland an hour late at 1pm.

Family of a 92-year-old passenger said they had been left in the dark over what had happened. "My mum-in-law didn't really realise what was happening," said one family member.

InterCity Group general manager coaching Sam Peate said the driver was suffering from an acute infection.

Peate said the driver had a lengthy and unblemished driving career before the incident.

He said staff had contact with the driver at Thames and decided the driver was well enough to proceed. But the driver's condition got worse as the journey continued.

"We are extremely grateful that all concerned are safe," said Peate. "Had either the driver or the operations staff been aware of the acute nature of the infection on the day ... a different decision would have been made."

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n1 at 18 Apr 2014 19:22:38 Processing Time: 435ms