School bus driver hailed as hero after horror crash
A southwest Queensland bus driver has been hailed as a hero for his lifesaving driving skills after a collision with an oncoming car at 110km/hr while he was taking 17 students home.
Yuleba bus driver Colin Stafford, 58, was driving Wallumbilla State School students home along the Warrego Highway on Friday afternoon 10km east of Wallumbilla when at 3.20pm the collision occurred.
Amber Baker's 14-year-old son was on the bus with other Wallumbilla State School students when the horror crash occurred and said there was no doubt in her mind that Mr Stafford's driving skills saved the students' lives that day.
"Colin is a hero, absolutely" Ms Baker said.
"My son has given him a six-pack of beer, a hug and told him 'thank you for saving us all', he really did go above and beyond
"A lot of people in that situation would have overcorrected and rolled it but he was able to keep the bus upright and the kids as safe as he could.
"From what the kids have told me, he (Colin) slowed down (before impact) and kept it upright.
"My son said he could see the car coming so they had a chance to brace themselves."
The passenger in the car, a 3o-year-old Chinchilla woman, was killed and the 37-year-old Western Downs driver was left fighting for her life in a Brisbane hospital after she was flown from Roma.
Sixteen of the children aboard the bus suffered minor lacerations, abrasions and fractures and one child sustained serious leg injuries and multiple fractures.
Ms Baker said the children were helped to exit the bus through the windows by Mr Stafford who also suffered minor injuries.
The Yuleba mother is convinced Mr Stafford's insistence on installing seatbelts in his bus and telling the children to wear them every time before driving helped prevent more death last Friday.
"They saved lives, if the kids didn't have them on they probably would have went through the windscreen," Ms Baker said.
"The crash was horrific, there was no windscreen left and the dash was all smashed in."
The Forensic Crash Unit are still investigating the crash.
The Maranoa community banded together over the weekend with Roma-based Lor-Ken Transport organising a replacement bus to help transport the Wallumbilla State School students on Monday morning.
Originally published as 'Thanks for saving us': School bus driver hailed as hero after horror crash