Several workers who helped a woman and her toddler caught under a runaway bus in Auckland yesterday are being hailed as heroes.

City Rail Link boss Dr Sean Sweeney said workers on the $4.4 billion project had the presence of mind and courage to ensure everyone was safe after a double-decker bus rolled down a hill into work barriers in central Auckland and ran over a woman and her baby.

He said a team of about 10 CRL workers were on site at the time, involved in piling work for a trench being excavated south along Albert St. The trench will be used to relocate utilities away from the planned Aotea underground station.

When the incident occurred, the workers immediately got over the barrier to help those caught in the incident, he said.


"Given there was no immediate information about the safety or the stability of the bus, their actions, including crawling under the bus, were heroic," said Sweeney.

The site was closed after the incident, but crews from the Link Alliance worked overnight to make the site on the corner of Albert and Victoria Sts secure for the public and workers.

A traffic lawyer says the driver of the bus who was not in the vehicle when it rolled down a hill in central Auckland could be charged with careless driving.

Samira Taghavi, of traffic law firm specialists ActiveLegal, said a careless driving charge could be brought even if the driver was not in the bus if the incident was his fault.

Satender Phogat, who works at Kebab Time in Victoria St, said people were crossing the road on the green pedestrian light when he noticed the bus rolling backwards just after 1pm yesterday.

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He ran outside and noticed the driver was not in the bus, which was travelling at 10 to 12km/h so his initial reaction was to try to stop it.

"I was not expecting the bus going backwards without the driver."


Taghavi said it would be difficult for the police to charge the driver with dangerous driving because the threshold is quite high.

The bus company could also be charged, possibly with recklessness, by WorkSafe once it had completed its investigations, she said.

Multiple investigations are under way into the runaway double-decker bus that ran over a mother and her baby in downtown Auckland.

Three people suffered minor injuries in the incident when the driverless sightseeing bus rolled down a hill.

The police serious crash unit attended the scene initially but the investigation has been handed over to the Auckland City district road policing team, a police spokeswoman said this morning.

WorkSafe started initial inquiries to establish what occurred. Today, a spokeswoman said the matter has been passed over to police as the appropriate agency to investigate the incident.

She said WorkSafe recommended the business participate in the duty holder review process and the business has agreed to complete this.

The duty holder review process requires the business to identify any relevant health and safety issues and determine what actions need to be taken to prevent similar incidents occurring in the future. A report is then submitted to WorkSafe for review, the spokeswoman said.

The owner of the bus company, Mark Gilbert, said it was fully cooperating with the police in their investigation.

"Our thoughts are with those hurt yesterday and we are fully supporting everyone that needs support."

Gilbert said he could not comment on whether the handbrake was on because it is part of the police investigation, but "once we know more we will update everybody".

He said the driver involved in the accident had taken a few days off to relax after Monday's event.

A woman with a child was run over by the bus, with witnesses racing to free her.

The runaway bus came to a stop in a roadworks area. Photo / Jason Oxenham
The runaway bus came to a stop in a roadworks area. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Pedestrians watched in horror as the bus rolled down a hill and injured three people.

One witness said a young woman with a child was struck by the City Sightseeing Tours bus.

"She went under the bus and the rest of us managed to get out of the way," she told the Herald.

"Everyone jumped in and helped her out from under the bus. Then we had to locate the baby.

"There was no bus driver. There was no one.

"It was absolutely terrifying."

Police said three people had been injured, and all were in a minor condition.

A second witness, Mark Mallinger, told the Herald he saw a double decker sightseeing bus rolling down Victoria St and a person, presumed to be its driver, running after it.

He heard people screaming after the bus crashed into a construction site on the corner of Victoria and Albert Sts.

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Focus: Eyewitness Satender Phogat describes the moment he raced to help those trapped under a sightseeing bus that ploughed through pedestrians in Auckland CBD. Video / Ben Leahy / Jason Oxenham

Mallinger said he heard a crunching sound as the bus crashed backwards through a construction barrier.

The scene at the crash site. Photo / Will Trafford
The scene at the crash site. Photo / Will Trafford

He said the bus had gone through an area where pedestrians crossed the road at the traffic lights - and it was busy as it was lunchtime.

Despite the steep hill the bus came to a stop when it hit the construction site.

The runaway bus came to a stop in a roadworks area. Photo / Jason Oxenham
The runaway bus came to a stop in a roadworks area. Photo / Jason Oxenham

The bus had started rolling slowly, so he assumed it was being reversed - until it sped up and he saw the driver running after it.

A reporter at the scene said a woman appeared to have been trapped.

She was sitting down holding a young child and was being attended to by fire officers. She appeared to have escaped serious injury and was able to walk to an ambulance.

A child's pram can be seen behind the bus. Photo / Dean Purcell
A child's pram can be seen behind the bus. Photo / Dean Purcell

Her arm appeared to have been hurt as it was strapped up and was scraped.

There was also an abandoned pram which did not appear to be damaged and appeared to belong to the injured woman.