Shweta and Sharleen Chand were yesterday praying for their big sister to be okay.

Family members told the sisters, aged 10 and 5, that 15-year-old Shateel had a "cut on her head" after being struck by a bus in Mt Wellington yesterday.

"We just say [in prayer] please help our sister," Shweta told the Herald yesterday from their grandparents' home.

She and Sharleen were looking forward to seeing their big sister who always looked out for them and was "really playful".

But this morning Shateel was still in a critical condition in Auckland City Hospital.

Speaking to the Herald from hospital, Shateel's father, Rakesh Chand, said more than a dozen friends and relatives were at her side, praying for her to pull through. He had been contacted by the bus company - Waka Pacific - but was too upset to talk.

"At the moment all I'm worried about is Shateel," he said.

Meanwhile, the bus driver has been suspended from duty while police investigate the incident.

Zane Fulljames, operations general manager of NZ Bus, said the company was also conducting its own inquiry. He said the driver was "very upset" and had been offered counselling.

He said initial reports the driver carried on with his route were inaccurate. He stayed at the scene until Shateel was stabilised and taken to hospital.

Crash investigators and police forensic experts are trying to piece together what happened. They say it could take several days to examine the scene, mechanically inspect the bus and talk to witnesses.

Shateel was crossing Penrose Road to catch the bus to Auckland Girls' Grammar School - as she did every day about 7.30am - when she was hit by the westbound bus.

Several motorists pulled over and rushed to her aid - covering her with a blanket and phoning for help.

"The bus driver was out [of the bus] wanting to give assistance, but the ladies were very, very efficient, with blankets to cover her and their hazard lights flashing," said a motorist who didn't want to be identified.

Sergeant Matthew Ford of the Auckland city serious crash unit asked anyone who witnessed the crash, particularly a young boy who was the sole passenger on the bus, to contact him on (09) 359 3111. He said police would interview the bus driver within the next couple of days.

Auckland Girls' Grammar School associate principal Di Hatch said Shateel's closest friends were told individually of the accident and all students informed in the last period.

The school had also been in touch with the Ministry of Education crisis team and was offering counselling and support to staff and students.

Milan Maharaj, 15, said she couldn't believe it when she heard her close friend had been in the accident.

"I saw police cars and a man told me that a 12-year-old girl was hit by a car and I was relieved it wasn't [Shateel] because I know she comes this way and because they said she was 12," she said.

Milan had spoken to Shateel on the phone the night before about joining her Indian dance class.

* Sad toll


Leonida Gashi, 18, died after she was knocked down and dragged 400m, after tripping and falling in front of a Metrolink bus as she left the Lantern Festival in Auckland on Waitangi Day.

Police say they finished their investigation two months ago, but are waiting for their legal team to decide whether to prosecute the driver.

MAY 2008

Zhuan-di Liu Chen
, 58, was killed after stepping out from behind a car into the bus lane and being hit by a Ritchies bus outside Westlake Girls High School on Wairau Road, Takapuna.

No information has been made public on whether the driver will be charged.

APRIL 2007

Rongfa Jiang, 53, died after allegedly being swiped from the footpath by a Stagecoach bus on Dominion Road, Auckland.

The driver, Tu Tukino, pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to stop and ascertain injury after an accident.

He was sentenced to 40 hours' community work in October, 2007.

MAY 2000

Matthew Scott Taylor, 12, died after being run over by a Stagecoach school bus on the North Shore.

His backpack became caught in the doors of a school bus and he fell under a rear wheel. The driver, Kereopa Te Waru Puru, was charged with careless driving causing death and failing to stop after an accident.

He was sentenced to four months' periodic detention in May 2001.