Young boys saw brother killed in bus accident

By Greymouth Star staff

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

Two young boys watched their little brother as he was hit and killed by a school bus just after he had been dropped off on the way home, a coroner's inquest has been told today.

The inquest into the death of Hector boy Mahuri Hemi Bettjeman-Manawatu, five, who died on August 21, 2012, opened this morning in the Greymouth District Court.

Regional Coroner Richard McElrea passed on the court's condolences to Mahuri's parents, Jamie Manawatu and Terri-Lee Bettjeman, who were present.

The inquest was told that Mahuri's brothers, aged 7 and 9, witnessed the accident. Both were interviewed by a specialist child interviewer.

Evidence was given this morning by officer in charge, Detective Sergeant Gavin Nicols, serious crash unit Senior Constable Greg Taylor, and Ritchies Bus Company national training manager John Harvey.

Mr Nicols read various statements from other children who got off the bus at the same time as Mahuri.

They were dropped off in Curtis Street and had to walk about 500m north home, crossing Greenfield Street - the same route the bus took after dropping off the children.

Mr Nicols said the driver told police he checked the way was clear and had driven up to the intersection and turned left.

"Inquiries revealed that once Mahuri got off the bus, he started to run ahead, looking back as he did," Mr Nicols said.

Mahuri had not stopped when he arrived at the Greenfield Street intersection at the same time as the bus was negotiating the left-hand corner. The bus had travelled about 10 or 12m from the bus stop to the intersection.

Other children said that Mahuri was being chased at the time, and he sometimes chased the bus.

The children also described the moment of impact.

Mr Nicols said the driver, in his statement, told police that when he turned the corner he felt a bump as though he had driven over a brick. He thought it was strange, stopped the bus and checked, only to find Mahuri lying on the ground. It was obvious he had driven over him, causing fatal injuries.

He suggested the boy may have tripped and fallen over his velcro shoe straps, which were undone, or that he had run into the side of the bus.

The coroner requested that the names of the children and specific details of the death be withheld.

- APNZ

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