A CHARITY bike rider has dashed back to his Singleton family after one son was killed and another critically injured in yesterday's horror bus tragedy.
A Camp Quality statement issued today said Dean Dunn, who was riding in a team from Ipswich to Newcastle to raise money for the cancer charity, was notified his sons Harry, 9, and Luke, 7, were involved in the accident.
‘‘Tragically Dean’s son Harry passed away and his other son Luke was airlifted to hospital,’’ the Camp Quality blog said.
‘‘Our riders are all very distraught for their team mate Dean.
‘‘They have all become so close and Dean is such a treasured member of our team.’’
The statement said Mr Dunn learned the heartbreaking news shortly after arriving in Glen Innes.
He was being driven back to Singleton to be with his family, the statement said.
A Camp Quality spokesman said the charity had received Mr Dunn’s authorisation for its statement.
In a profile posted ahead of the race, Mr Dunn said he was involved in the ride through a close friend and because it was a ‘‘fantastic cause.’’
He said he also worked as a health and safety manager in the coal industry.
‘‘[I] always enjoy raising money for a good cause whilst having a good time as well,’’ Mr Dunn’s profile said.
Police this afternoon revised the ages of the Dunn brothers after their initial reports identified them as being eight and six.
Help is available if you are feeling distressed. Phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.
Families of injured boys ask for privacy
The families of the two hospitalised boys released a statement asking for privacy as they concentrate on the pair’s recovery.
‘‘Both families are going through a tragic and traumatic experience,’’ the statement said.
‘‘We would however like to assure our our community that both boys are doing well and are in a stable condition.
‘‘We thank you for all your support.’’
Principal and Singleton school community grieve
LATEST NEWS: St Catherine's Catholic College Principal Brian Lacey fronted the media this morning, paying tribute to a student who ‘‘loved his brother’’, one of the eight children also injured in the crash.
The school held a prayer service this morning, and has had counsellors on site since 8am.
‘‘[He was] an outstanding young boy, always had a smile and a friend to many,’’ Mr Lacey said.
‘‘Just a lovely little fellow...[he was] full of life and just a pleasure to be around, one of the kids that you just get so much from.’’
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Mr Lacey said the child’s class had taken the news hard today.
‘‘Luckily though we were very fortunate to have the support of parents and teachers, and the outstanding support of counsellors being there to help us through this tragedy,’’ he said.
Mr Lacey said he had already contacted Upper Hunter MP George Souris and would be pushing to introduce seatbelts on school buses following the tragedy.
School counsellors have been at the school since 8am.
If you are feeling down, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.
Boy dies as school bus, truck collide
A BOY was killed yesterday in a collision between a school bus and a prime mover on a narrow Singleton street.
Seven other children, including two listed last night in a critical condition, were injured in the crash that occurred about 3.50pm at the intersection of Church and Kelso streets.
Hunter Valley Acting Superintendent Guy Guiana said the bus was travelling north on Church Street with eight children on board when it was involved in a collision with the prime mover, which was travelling west on Kelso Street.
The bus was hit with such force that the nine-year-old boy was ejected through a window and landed on the ground.
He died at the scene while his classmates screamed for help.
Witnesses have told the Newcastle Herald the crash occurred just a few blocks from the bus's destination with several parents, sprinting down Church Street after hearing the collision and their children's cries for help.
One Singleton resident, Marg, said she heard a bang then children loudly crying.
"People started running from everywhere . . . it was just chaos," she said.
"There were mothers and fathers running down Church Street and through the vacant lot screaming for their children.
"I saw people coming out of their houses with towels, water bottles and first aid kits to try and help."
She said she heard the bus driver calling for help and urging the children to calm down and stay in their seats until help arrived.
In the confusion, a 10-year-old girl, who was on the bus and suffered head injuries and shock, ran from the scene.
Hunter Valley police were attempting to locate her in the moments following the crash after witnesses reported seeing a young girl in a school uniform with blood on her face running towards Bathurst Street.
Acting Inspector Guiana told the Herald the girl later returned to the site and had been reunited with her family.
At least one mother who arrived on the scene had to be treated by paramedics for shock while dozens of others burst into tears at the sight of the injured children.
The 50-year-old male bus driver suffered serious head injuries in the crash and was transported by ambulance to Singleton Base Hospital.
He was listed in a stable condition with non-life threatening injuries last night.
The 27-year-old male truck driver suffered cuts to his face and was taken to Singleton Base Hospital.
He was later discharged.
Five children suffered minor injuries including complaints of back and neck pain.
The emergency services response included a dozen NSW Ambulance Service crews, three rescue helicopters, as well as police from Hunter Valley, Central Hunter and the Traffic and Highway Patrol.
Acting Superintendent Guiana declined to say what school the children were from but did confirm all those on the bus were between the age of six and 10.
He said counselling was being organised by the schools with children involved.
Witnesses told the Herald they saw several students from St Catherine's Catholic College at Singleton among the injured.
Acting Superintendent Guiana wouldn't be drawn on whether or not police believed the truck had stopped at the intersection.
"It's still early in the investigation and the circumstances are still under investigation so at this time we don't know the exact cause of the accident," he said. "There was eight children on the bus, two of those have been transported to John Hunter Children's Hospital.
"As we understand it, only the child that died was thrown out of the bus."
Several Singleton residents told the Herald that the intersection was a trouble spot, used by trucks to bypass the city.
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"The road is too narrow for the traffic that it gets on it," resident Peter Blinco said.
The Newcastle Crash Investigation examined the the scene last night. Police will prepare a report for the coroner. Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.