NEWS

Lakena Bus Accident: Horror Bus Crash Kills Two Children

It is alleged the bus slid as it was reversing and tumbled down the cliff next to the road.
10 Oct 2019 12:52
Lakena Bus Accident: Horror Bus Crash Kills Two Children
Two students died after this school bus slipped off the road and landed on a house at Lakena Hill in Nausori on October 9, 2019. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Two primary school children died in a horrific school bus accident in Lakena, Nausori, just metres away from their homes yesterday.

Dead are Year Four student of Saraswati Primary School, Steven Clarence Naibuka, 10, and Year Eight student of Nausori Primary School Makareta Mataika, 13.

Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro confirmed that two more students are in critical condition while 17 were receiving medical treatment.

She said the 46-year-old bus driver was also in critical condition.

According to witnesses, the Zakreen Holdings Limited bus – registration DA 686 – was going uphill carrying school students when it was stopped by a private vehicle.

They said the private vehicle’s driver refused to give way to the bus and after verbal exchanges, the bus driver was forced to reverse to give way to the private vehicle.

It is alleged the bus slid as it was reversing and tumbled down the cliff next to the road.

Ani Katonivere, 56, was in her kitchen when she saw the bus fall on its roof with the students inside.

“My two-year-old granddaughter Reijieli was in the kitchen. I had to pull her away from where she was as the bus crashed through our kitchen,” she said.

“If I had not done that my granddaughter would have been killed.”

Community effort

Ani Katonivere (left) is lucky to be alive as the a bus veered of the road and landed on her house killing two passengers in the bus at Lakena Hill in Nausori on 9 October, 2019. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Ani Katonivere (left) is lucky to be alive as the a bus veered of the road and landed on her house killing two passengers in the bus at Lakena Hill in Nausori on 9 October, 2019. Photo: Ronald Kumar

The school children, who were all clad in their favourite Fiji Day outfits, were on their home.

As the bus crashed down the hill, members of the community were quick to react.

The bus lay upside down on its roof which was crushed.

Mohammed Iliaz, of Lakena, said he and others quickly made their way to the scene of the crash and rescued as many of the children as they could.

“The bus was not full as usual. We did not care about our safety; the children were priority,” he said.

“The Police were quick to the scene and we rescued as many as we could.”

Another Lakena resident Marika Nacolevu said they pulled out a girl he recognised.

“It was Makareta. She was not moving,” he said as he stood in a state of shock.

Families mourn

Two school children, who were passengers in this Zakreen Holdings Ltd bus, died after it slid off the road and landed on a house at Lakena Hill in Nausori on October 9, 2019. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

Two school children, who were passengers in this Zakreen Holdings Ltd bus, died after it slid off the road and landed on a house at Lakena Hill in Nausori on October 9, 2019. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

Year Four student Steven Clarence Naibuka is said to have died on the scene. Alena Naibuka, the woman who was raising him after the death of his parents, could not stop weeping.

“He was a big boy,” she said.

“I have been looking after him since April this year. That is when his father passed away. I married his father after the death of his mother.

“He was a good child. Cheeky, but that was his nature. He would never say no to anything we asked him to do.”

Ms Naibuka said she could not put into words the pain she was feeling.

Makereta Mataika’s mother Asenaca Tutu is a security officer at the Nausori Hospital. She broke down after she confirmed her daughter died. She was too distraught to say anything.

It is believed the driver of the private vehicle has been taken in for questioning.

For the residents of Lakena, this is a day they will not forget and for many they are now thinking twice about sending their children to travel by bus.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

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