Allan Campbell has been named as the school bus driver who was killed after his vehicle left the road and crashed into a ditch on State Highway 3 yesterday.

His widow, Carolyn Campbell, told the Herald today that she had looked out of the window of their home near Stratford this morning, could still see his car in the driveway and was still trying to process the loss.

"His car is in the drive and he is not there. I'm alone. I have not got anyone here right now.

"His boss is coming to see me later," she said.

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Carolyn Campbell said she had yet to be given any information about her husband's death.

Ten students were taken to Taranaki Base Hospital after the crash yesterday afternoon.

The 69-year-old school bus driver had been in the job for many years and enjoyed going to work and providing a service to the community, his widow said.

"He loved it."

Taranaki bus driver Allan Campbell, killed after his vehicle left the road and crashed into ditch on State Highway 3.
Taranaki bus driver Allan Campbell, killed after his vehicle left the road and crashed into ditch on State Highway 3.

Campbell said her husband cared deeply about his passengers and the public.

He had made headlines in 2015 when he stopped his bus and jumped off to help an elderly passenger across the road.

He had hopped off to help the grocery-laden woman cross the road to her home.

"It's just part of the job. I'd do it for any older person; I was taught to have respect," Allan Campbell told media at the time.

Inglewood High School (IHS) principal Rosey Mabin said staff and students thoughts were with the bus driver's wife and family at this "terribly sad time" and that the school would proceed to operate as normal.

The bus carrying 13 IHS students was on the way home after school when it crashed.

"None of the 13 students on the bus were seriously injured.

"As soon as the police provided us with facts, parents were notified."

While times like this were difficult, they also brought out the best in people, she said.

"Our school is essentially a family unit; today we are drawing strength from each other and from the knowledge that we are surrounded by wonderful care and support from our community.

"As much as our hearts go out to the bus driver's wife, our focus too, is on our students and, as strange as it may seem, carrying on with normal routine is important, so the school day is proceeding as usual."

New Plymouth District deputy mayor Richard Jordan also gave his condolences, saying he was deeply saddened by the tragic event yesterday and his heart and deepest sympathy went out to Campbell's family and to the children and their families also involved.

"Inglewood is a tight-knit community and will rally around the families involved. Those families will need time to come to terms with the shock of this accident."

Crash bus a Mitsubishi Fuso

The school bus that crashed in Taranaki yesterday, killing Campbell, was the same make as two other buses that have crashed in the past three weeks.

However, the Mitsubishi Fuso bus in yesterday's crash was a "totally different" type of vehicle according to Tranzit Coachlines managing director Paul Snelgrove.

"It's a horrible coincidence, that's all it is," he told Stuff.

But the bus was larger than the other buses involved in the previous crashes, he said.

A Mitsubishi Fuso was also involved in the death of Hannah Teresa Francis, 11, who died after the Ruapehu Alpine Lifts bus she was travelling in with her father and stepbrother crashed just after 2.30pm on the afternoon of July 28.

Last week, multiple people suffered injuries after a bus - also a Fuso - carrying 19 people crashed and rolled onto its side in Manawatu.

Last week the Herald revealed the Fuso bus that crashed in Manawatu had failed its certificate of fitness checks eight times since 2006 - most recently in 2013, according to vehicle records.

Emergency services responded after a school bus crashed on State Highway 3, north of Inglewood in the Taranaki region. Photo / Abe Leach
Emergency services responded after a school bus crashed on State Highway 3, north of Inglewood in the Taranaki region. Photo / Abe Leach

Call for seatbelts on buses

Meanwhile, motoring commentator Clive Matthew-Wilson says buses travelling over 50km/h on highways should require all occupants to wear seatbelts to improve safety in response to the three crashes.

The call followed the death of the school bus driver who was killed after the vehicle he was driving left the road and crashed into a ditch on State Highway 3 in Inglewood, Taranaki, yesterday. Ten children were also injured.

Matthew-Wilson, the editor of car review website dogandlemon.com, is calling on the Government to improve safety measures after three "unacceptable" serious bus crashes in three weeks.

"There have been two deaths and multiple serious injuries. There's a strong chance these injuries and deaths would not have occurred in Germany, because all buses must have seatbelts and all occupants must wear them," Wilson said.

"The Government needs to act to ensure that this lifesaving technology is fitted to all new buses. The Government also needs to require all buses that travel more than 50km/h to be fitted with seatbelts."

Seatbelts could be easily retrofitted to most buses, although older buses may need to be strengthened, Matthew-Wilson said.

"Compared to cars, buses are actually a very safe way of travelling. At low speeds, such as around town, it's not practical to require occupants to wear seatbelts.

"However, buses that travel our highways need to protect their occupants in the event of a collision.

"New Zealand's roads are particularly dangerous for buses, because they're often narrow and winding; a perfect setup for a rollover accident."