By Guy Williams
An American tourist who died after being run over by a bus at Mt Nicholas Station was "quite definitely" told to walk in front of the bus after getting off, a witness says.
Pahiatua man Barry Wilton said he and his partner were the first to get off the bus after a trip around the high country station.
The tour leader had explained to the visitors the route they should take from the bus to the entrance of the station's woolshed, where they were to be served refreshments and watch a video.
He had been inside the building for only a minute when he heard a woman screaming outside, and found the victim lying beside the bus with blood streaming from his head.
His chest was compressed, his abdomen was bloated and he was "very distressed".
"He was not in a good way, but he was talking the whole time."
Wilton was giving evidence on the first day of a judge-alone trial before Judge Alastair Garland in the Queenstown District Court yesterday.
The bus' driver, a 63-year-old woman who lives in the Queenstown area, has interim name suppression.
She is charged with careless driving causing the death of Richard Philip Hyde (73) on April 15 last year.
The court heard how she reversed the bus towards the victim, knocking him over and running over his chest and a shoulder. He was airlifted to Lakes District Hospital in Frankton, but died soon afterwards.
The defendant is employed by Southern Discoveries, a tourist company that operates farm tours on the station, a 40,000ha high country farm on the western side of Lake Wakatipu about 20km from Queenstown.
Wilton said Hyde asked for someone to find his cellphone, which was under the bus, and called his wife, who was in the resort. He repeatedly said he had been run over, and told her "I love you".
In a videotaped interview with police, the defendant said the victim was one of seven visitors she had dropped off at the woolshed.
After checking her rear-vision mirrors, she began reversing away from the building so she could drive to a water tanker to clean the bus.
"Not far into the process I felt a big bump, with the back wheels going into the air."
She stopped when she heard yelling, then drove forward until the rear wheels were back on the ground.
She agreed with the interviewing officer there was a "blind spot" behind the bus that was not visible from the driver's seat or through the rear-view mirrors.
There was no set procedure for checking if anyone was behind the bus before reversing, such as getting out and checking, or having another staff member check.
However, the bus beeped loudly when it was in reverse, she said.
The first police officer to arrive at the scene, Sergeant Tod Hellebon, of Te Anau, said the defendant told him she could not understand why the victim had not heard the beeping.
The trial continues today.