The Bay of Plenty truck driver accused of dangerous driving in relation to the bus crash in Ruatoki that injured 35 children has pleaded guilty to one amended charge.
Joe Nika Morehu, 42, was originally facing 16 charges of dangerous driving causing injury after his logging truck and trailer slammed into the back of the school bus when it slowed on Reids Road on September 5, 2011.
This was amended to one representative charge of careless driving causing injury to 16 school children.
The accident scene involving a school bus and logging truck in the Ruatoki Valley. Photo: Whakatane Beacon.
Morehu pleaded guilty to the amended charge when he appeared before Judge Robert Wolff in the Whakatane District Court this morning.
He also pleaded guilty to a charge of exceeding the 5.5 hours permitted driving; one charge of producing a log book containing errors; and one charge of driving with excess breath alcohol – in relation to separate incident.
The impact of the unladen logging truck caused severe damage to the rear of the bus, knocking it into a roadside paddock.
The injured children were pupils from Whakatane and Trident High Schools and primary students from Taneatua. They were taken to Whakatane, Tauranga and Rotorua hospitals, with a two more seriously injured transported to Starship Hospital in Auckland.
Morehu was remanded on bail for sentencing on July 4.