Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis.
Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis. Contributed

Bus crash heroes

JUST days after the 24th anniversary of the Cowper bus crash, Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis addressed Parliament calling for the formal recognition of the Cowper bus crash rescuers.

"They are my friends, they are my neighbours and they are my local heroes," he said.

On October 20, 1989, a bus carrying 45 passengers and a truck carrying pineapple products collided on the Pacific Hwy near Cowper.

Twenty-one people were killed, and 22 others were injured.

Rescue personnel rushed to the scene, and provided support to victims and their families for years later.

"The lives of all involved in this accident, both victims and rescuers, changed forever from that moment," Mr Gulaptis told the Legislative Assembly.

"These men and women are volunteers - ordinary members of our community who put their hands up to help their fellow man and who were thrust into the most unimaginable disaster," he said.

Mr Gulaptis said he spoke on behalf of the Clarence Valley community when he asked for the personal recognition of the volunteers on that day.

"It would be fitting and proper for this recognition to be made on the 25th anniversary of this tragic accident next year," he said.

"The volunteers who attended the Clybucca bus crash some two months later, which resulted in the loss of a further 35 lives, also deserve recognition."

The Daily Examiner has published a number of articles on the campaign to reward the rescuers with formal recognition - hopefully by the 25th anniversary next year.

In September, the man who sent them out to the Pacific Highway roadside at 4am on October 20, 1989 voiced his disappointment at the lack of recognition.

At the time Bryan Robins was the executive officer for the Grafton City SES and said he could count himself as one of the people whose lives the crash ruined.

In October The Daily Examiner interviewed the Maclean SES controller at the time of the accident, Barry Essex.

Shortly after the crash Mr Essex made certificates recognising the individual efforts of each of his volunteers at the crash.



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