| 27.09,19. 09:34 PM |
Woman and child airlifted to hospital, 26 injured in church group bus crash
Photo: The passengers had to climb out the windows of the bus after it ran off the road. (Supplied: NSW Ambulance)
A 65-year-old woman is in a serious condition with head injuries, while NSW Ambulance is treating dozens of other patients after a bus crashes near Harden, 125 kilometres north west of Canberra.
Passengers from a church group that hired the bus had to escape out the side windows after it careered off Burley Griffin Way, near the Demondrille Creek Bridge around 8.30am.
The 65-year-old woman and an eight-year-old boy who is being treated for serious leg fractures have been airlifted to Canberra Hospital.
Another 26 patients sustained minor injuries and have been transferred to Harden Hospital.
NSW Ambulance Inspector Stephen Pollard said passengers had to escape through the side windows of the bus, which was operated by Griffith-based MIA Coaches.
"They were shaken but not stirred," he said.
Superintendent Mark Gibbs said most passengers would be treated for minor injuries at local hospitals.
One woman who was on the bus with her daughter said "everything it happened so quick".
"I have faith in God. You know? God saved us, no-one died, just a little scratch," she said.
"But we're good. We're strong, everybody needs to stay strong for each other."
A man who witnessed the crash said the passengers were "in really good spirits".
"The injuries that have been sustained, for what's happened, is bloody remarkable," he said.
"At the end of the day I think they can count their blessings that's for sure."
Superintendent Gibbs said there were six paramedics on the scene but that resources were stretched.
"We have a couple of crews from outlying areas coming into assist the team, but unfortunately at the moment we've had to divert two crews to a male that has fallen off a ladder in Harden as well," he said.
The bus driver is on the scene assisting police with inquiries.
CEO of MIA Coaches Owen Brown said the bus, which was bound for Sydney, was brand new.
"It left Griffith around 6am and the 53-year-old driver told me that he lost control as he went over a bridge," Mr Brown said.
"I have been in the business for 35 years and we've never had something like this happen in some 25 years."
"It's really awful to hear that these children and their families were injured — we are doing all we can to assist police."
MIA Coaches runs 16 school bus services, as well as chartering buses for school excursions and local events.
The road is still open but has been reduced to one lane and motorists are advised to exercise caution.