Brady Potter's first day at high school this term ended with a helicopter ride to Wellington hospital after he was hit by a camper van on his way home.
Brady is now recuperating at home in Midhirst with his family after what his mother, Alison, describes as "a week I never want to go through again".
Alison says that Brady had spent his first day at New Plymouth Boys High and was returning home by bus.
Brady got off the bus in Midhirst and went to cross the State Highway to where his mother was waiting in a car with four of her children. As he crossed the road the 13-year-old was hit by a passing campervan. "I am so grateful to everyone who was there who helped Brady and I and kept him safe until the ambulance arrived," Alison says, adding that the elderly couple who were driving the campervan were also clearly in shock and also needed help. While her first instincts were for her son, Alison also remembers hugging the couple to console them.
The ambulance took Brady to Base Hospital, where the decision was then made to fly him to Wellington as he had "some blood on his brain and a skull fracture," explains Alison. She and Brady then spent the next four nights at the hospital, before Brady was flown back to Base Hospital. He was discharged at the weekend to recuperate more fully at home.
Midhirst principal Stuart Beissel says the accident raises some questions: "Should a school bus be stopping to drop off or pick up students on the main highway and in a 70km zone?".
Police at the scene say that the bus did not carry a school bus sign for which passing traffic must slow down to 20km/h, as it is not a specified school bus.
While Alison says that "every person on the bus is in a school uniform", Colin Shotter, the manager of the New Plymouth branch of Tranzit, says that the bus is a commercial, fare-paying bus. This, he says, means the company is not legally required to have school signage on the vehicle,.
Colin says that the driver of the bus in question was a trained ambulance officer and was extremely shaken up about the incident. "Most of our drivers transport the same children to and from school and establish a rapport with the students; it is devastating when something like this happens," he says.
Alison hopes the incident will now raise awareness of bus safety and discussion on where the bus should stop.