Thirty-six treated in hospital after school bus crash in Limerick

‘We were very shocked, there was a load of commotion but we managed to get out’

 

More than 30 secondary school students and two adults were taken to hospital after a school bus and a car collided in Co Limerick on Wednesday morning.

The incident occurred in the townland of Caherconlish, known as Connelly’s Cross, near Ballyneety. There were nearly 50 teenagers on the bus, which ended up on its side in a ditch.

The students were travelling to John The Baptist Community School, in Hospital, Co Limerick.

The HSE said the majority of those injured were treated for “musculoskeletal and soft tissue injuries” but some were treated for a “small number of fractures”. It said 36 patients presented to the emergency department at University Hospital Limerick.

“Of these, four have now been admitted and the remainder have been discharged. Operations at UHL have returned to normal.”

School deputy principal Ita Browne said parents and teachers “were on the scene immediately, as were the emergency services”, and the “school’s critical incident team was immediately activated and continues to operate in response to the situation”.

Counselling services

Ms Browne said “psychologists from the National Educational Psychological Service are advising the school on offering counselling services for students affected by the incident”.

“Our first and primary concern is the well being of our students,” she said. “We were very saddened to hear of the accident this morning, [and] so we are happy that nobody was seriously injured,” she added.

The crash is being investigated by gardaí and Bus Éireann.

Aislinn Merrick, a student who was on the bus, said: “We were very shocked, there was screaming and shouting, there was a load of commotion but we managed to get out. Some people got out the skylight and the back of the bus and the front of the bus. We got out, not the front window, but the side window beside the door. We managed to crawl out so we got the first year students out then and me and another student were out last just to make sure everyone was out.”

Another boy who was on the bus told RTÉ news the skylight broke and “we fell into the ditch”. He said one of the fifth years helped him to climb out.

Bus Éireann said the crash involved “a sub-contracted vehicle on one of the company’s school transport services”.

It said the 57-seater bus had about 46 students on board at the time. They ranged from first year to Leaving Cert students, according to the school.

A Bus Éireann spokeswoman said the bus was fitted with seat belts “as all those operating school transport services must”.

UHL formed an incident group in response to the collision but by mid-afternoon operations at the hospital had returned to normal.

School principal Noreen Rafferty paid tribute to the emergency services and staff at the hospital and also to teachers from the school who went to the scene to assist.

The school remained open on Wednesday for other pupils but the students involved in the crash were not expected back in class for another few days.

Emergency services were alerted at 8.40am. Four units attached to Limerick City and County Fire and Rescue Service were sent to the scene. They were later joined by an air ambulance helicopter and extra fire tenders from county stations.

Heroic efforts

UL Hospitals Group chief executive Prof Colette Cowan praised all those involved in the emergency response for their heroic efforts.

“This was a distressing incident for everyone involved and I would like to pay tribute to all the emergency services for their effective response in managing it,” she said.

Our own staff at UHL showed exceptional dedication in managing the situation with many turning up to help without having been called in.”