NEWS

Lakena Bus Accident: Bus Kids Recall Moments Of Horror, Fear Riding Bus Again

Zakreen Holding Limited bus was carrying 21 primary school students when it slipped and tumbled down the Lakena Hill Road, crushing two to death.
11 Oct 2019 10:30
Lakena Bus Accident: Bus Kids Recall Moments Of Horror, Fear Riding Bus Again
Survivors of the school bus accident at Lakena, Nausori, (from left) Esther Tuimata, Usenia Kini, Swaif Chiraag, Finau Bulivou and Cajetan Vuniwau. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga. Insert: Lakena Hill bus crash.

Children who survived the horrific bus crash at Lakena, Nausori, on Wednesday are terrified and say they fear riding a bus again.

Zakreen Holding Limited bus was carrying 21 primary school students when it slipped and tumbled down the Lakena Hill Road, crushing two to death.

Two are admitted at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital while five are in the Wainibokasi Divisional Hospital.

Yesterday, those released from hospital after medical treatment gave their statements to the Police in the presence of their parents and guardians.

Eight-year-old Swaif Chiraag suffered a fractured forearm in the crash.

“The school bus was going up the hill and then another vehicle was coming from the opposite direction. The other driver yelled at the bus driver to reverse,” Swaif said.

“Next thing I know, the bus is turned upside down. Children were thrown around. I was pulled out by some men.”

Nine-year-old Nashita Riya Singh was emotional when she recalled the incident.

“The other driver shouted at the bus driver and then did this,” she said as she gestured with hand by showing the middle finger.

Eight-year-old Usenia Kini was fast to react on the fateful day. She jumped out of the bus.

“I was sitting a few seats behind the driver. I just did what I thought was right. I jumped out of the bus onto the road,” she said.

Survivors of the school bus accident at Lakena, Nausori, (from left) Esther Tuimata, Usenia Kini, Swaif Chiraag, Finau Bulivou and Cajetan Vuniwau. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

Survivors of the school bus accident at Lakena, Nausori, (from left) Esther Tuimata,
Usenia Kini, Swaif Chiraag, Finau Bulivou and Cajetan Vuniwau. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

Nine-year-old Finau Bulivou sat next to Makereta Mataika, the 13-year-old who lost her life.

“Makereta was sitting next to me. As the bus flipped, I lost sight of her. I don’t know where she went.”

In the accounts of all these children, the alleged accident took place as a result of a driver coming from the opposite side shouting at the bus driver to reverse downhill.

However, this remains to be investigated by Police.

Lakena’s heroes

Young Nashita’s mother Pritika Kumari will forever be thankful to the men who acted quickly to save the lives of the children.

“I think more lives would have been lost if the men of Lakena did not act quickly. Soon after the bus went down, the men were next to the bus,” she said.

Pritika Kumari with her nine-year-old daughter Nashita Riya Singh who survived the bus accident. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

Pritika Kumari with her nine-year-old daughter Nashita Riya Singh who survived the bus accident.
Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

“Some of them managed to lever a portion of the bus so the children trapped inside the bus could be rescued.”

Local canteen owner Mohammed Riaz had just taken an afternoon stroll when the bus went down. He was one of the first at the scene.

He said it was not him alone. He said the accident brought the men of Lakena together as they rescued the children.

The bus caused some damage to this home in Lakena at the time of the crash on October 9, 2019. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

The bus caused some damage to this home in Lakena at the time of the crash on October 9, 2019. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

Police situation

Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro confirmed that both drivers were being questioned by Police.

She said no charges had been laid.

Ms Naisoro said Police were now in the process of gathering statements from witnesses.

Zakreen Holding Limited

Shakil Shah, one of the bus company directors, said they would wait for the authorities to complete their investigations before making a comment.

The bus involved in the horrific accident that claimed two lives. It was pulled out from Lakena Hill in Nausori on October 9; 2019. Photo: Ronald Kumar

The bus involved in the horrific accident that claimed two lives. It was pulled out from Lakena Hill in Nausori on October 9; 2019. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Edited by Percy Kean

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