Loreto College warns of GoFundMe scam in wake of Pentland Hills bus crash

A Victorian school has warned against fake GoFundMe accounts using its logo in the wake of a horrific bus crash that left several students injured.

A total of 27 students from Ballarat’s Loreto College were on board when their bus plunged down an embankment on the Western Main Road at Bacchus Marsh just after 3am on Wednesday when it was hit from behind by a lorry.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Students were injured after school bus was hit by a truck.

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The Year 9 to 11 students traveled to Melbourne Airport to fly to visit the US Space and Rocket Centre’s Space Camp.

Two days after the crash, three staff and 14 students remain at the hospital for ongoing treatment.

The school has now been dealt another blow, confirming that its logo had been used for “unapproved” crowdfunding pages.

The wreckage of the bus after the collision northwest of Melbourne. Credit: 7NEWS/7NEWS

“Loreto College has been made aware that a GoFundMe page has been created using the college logo,” the school said on its Facebook page.

“Loreto College has not approved any GoFundMe accounts and warns against these sites.”

The college also thanked the community for its continued support.

“The college and our students, staff and families have been overwhelmed and encouraged by your kind words and acts of support,” it said.

A total of 27 students from Ballarat’s Loreto College were on board when their bus crashed down an embankment. Credit: JOEL CARRETT/AAPIMAGE

It is understood that the fundraiser in question has since been removed.

A GoFundMe spokesperson told 7NEWS.com.au its Trust & Safety team “worked with the organizer and continue to follow up with support”.

“All donations collected … are being held securely while our Trust & Safety Team work to ensure the funds are transferred directly to the families.”

The spokesperson added that the platform is backed by the GoFundMe Giving Guarantee, which protects donors.

“We guarantee a full donation refund in the rare event that something is not right – this is the first and only donor protection guarantee in the fundraising industry,” she said.

‘Miraculous’ escape

Police have described the students’ escape from the crashed vehicle as “miraculous”.

“I think it was quite harrowing for everyone involved – how someone wasn’t more seriously injured is unbelievable,” Victoria Police Acting Superintendent Jason Templar said on Wednesday.

The speed limits on the motorway at the time of the accident had been reduced following an earlier collision.

It is believed the school bus slowed down when the driver spotted the speed limit signs. But as the truck rounded a corner, it collided with the back of the bus, sending it hurtling down the embankment.

The witness speaks

Trevor Oliver, who works for a towing company, was at the first incident about 800m up the road when he heard three loud crashes.

He went back down the highway and was shocked by what he saw.

“Instantly your heart sinks, but to get there and find students (it’s) another world,” he said.

Oliver went down the embankment on foot and, with the help of about six other people, removed the driver’s windscreen so the girls could get out.

He gave some of the girls his phone so they could call their families.

“I said, ‘Just pass the phone around,’ and they called the parents.”

Trevor Oliver was one of the first to witness the scene. Credit: 7NEWS

While most passengers got out unscathed, Oliver said one girl sustained some particularly confronting injuries.

“The worst was a girl who had her leg partially amputated,” he said.

Through tears, Oliver described how he helped get the girl off the bus.

“Three of us grabbed her … we got her free and carried her out,” he said.

“(I) just tried to calm her down. Grabbed whatever we could to wrap her leg because we were aware she was bleeding.

“It just seemed like forever to get enough ambulances there.”

As a former CFA member, Oliver said he has been through many traumatic incidents before, but it never gets any easier.

“I’ll deal with it. (I’ve) done it before, (I’ll) do it again.

“But it has an effect, no doubt.”

– With AAP

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