Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

High school student hit by car calls for changes to bus route

A driver failed to stop after clipping a high school student with his wing mirror on a 100km/h rural road, sending him flying.

Hamilton's Morgan Honnor, 15, was hospitalised and his mother is calling on the Ministry of Education to urgently change the bus route before a child dies walking home.

Her son was dropped off at the corner of Tauwhare and Bruntwood Rds, south of Hamilton about 4pm on Thursday afternoon.

The Hillcrest High student started walking home along Bruntwood Rd on the gravel between the verge and the bike lane. The road is has a 100km/h limit.

Two other students got off at the same stop, but had already reached their houses when the Morgan was clipped from behind by the wing mirror of a silver sedan, which was overtaking another car.

"I was walking home when I heard a loude noise go really fast behind me so I stepped to the right and then the next thing I knew I was hit by a car.

"I was shocked and I couldn't really believe what happened."

His body twisted and he landed hands down on the grass verge. Neither vehicle stopped.

In shock, Morgan pulled himself up and walked the rest of the way home.

Later that night he started complaining of back pain, a sore spine and a numb leg so his mother Deborah Weir-Honnor took him to Waikato Hospital's Emergency Department.

He was put in a neck brace and was home with pain killers after X-rays showed nothing was broken.

But on Monday, the pain in his mid and upper back got much worse and the Year 11 student went back to the emergency department. He also had a weak leg and was limping, which doctors put down to a pinched nerve.

"My leg feels weak so I can't walk properly."

He was hospitalised on Tuesday so doctors could manage his immense pain and they were hoping his walking would return to normal once the swelling subsided. Morgan is unable to have the usual prescribed anti-inflammatories because of a blood disorder.

Weir-Honnor reported the hit-and-run to police. The Herald is awaiting comment from police.

With the backing of the Tamahere community, Weir-Honnor is calling on the Ministry of Education and the Waikato District Council to change the bus route. She also believes a footpath should be installed so it was safer for pedestrians.

Weir-Honnor said a lot of parents refused to let their children get off at the bus stop because it was too dangerous and instead met their children at another bus stop further away. Another parent dropped her kids off.

"It's too dangerous. It's like a race track. There are these beautiful long straights and it is in the country and no one is policing the speed."

It was also used by motorists as a thoroughfare from Tamahere to Cambridge.

Meanwhile her son would try and walk home with others and make sure he was well out of the way as soon as he heard a car.

"I'm going to be a lot more jumpy if I hear a car coming behind me now," Morgan said.

Hillcrest High principal Kelvin Whiting learned of the accident on Monday night, but said he knew the area well and cars "whistled through" the 100km/h zone.

Whiting said staff had spoken to Weir-Honnor and told her the school would get behind any changes that made getting to and from school safer for their students.

The school bus picks up students from Hillcrest High, St John's College and Berkley Intermediate.

Ministry of Education head of Infrastructure Service Kim Shannon said it was caregivers' responsibility to ensure their children got home safely from the designated bus stop because the crash occurred after the student got off the bus.

However she said it was the MoE's responsibility to design appropriate bus routes and safe stopping and turning points and was happy to speak with parents who felt the bus stop by the corner of Tauwhare and Bruntwood Rds was no longer safe.

"The safety of students in and around schools and where they are picked up by our funded buses is very important to us," Shannon said.

Waikato District Council did not respond to the Herald's enquiries before deadline.

- NZ Herald

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