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Crushed: Freak gust tips bus, causes chaos

A gust of wind flipped a house bus, injuring the occupants and crushing two vehicles. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

Damaged bus, car, and bike were uninsured

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A house bus parked at Lake Wairarapa has flipped in a freak gust of wind, injuring the occupants and crushing two other vehicles.

At about 3pm on Monday, October 11, bus owner Eric Manning had just welcomed two friends who were visiting.

“We were just calmly having a cup of coffee, and out of nowhere, this gale comes in two gusts,” Manning said. “The first one felt like it lifted the bus, and the second one smacked it over like someone had whacked the side of it hard. It was so fast, it was unbelievable.”

A couch came loose in the fall and pressed Manning against the corner of a bench, cracking two of his ribs. The incident also left him with a sprained ankle, while his friends suffered cuts and bruises.

The bus – a 40-foot Sedan – fell on to Manning’s car, crushing the vehicle.

It also crushed his new Harley Davidson motorcycle, which he had bought just before the incident.

“I’d finally achieved my goal of having a Harley Davidson after years. I had it for two weeks, and the bus landed on it.”

Unable to walk with his injuries, Manning could not return to the job he had just started, painting a Greytown housing project.

“It took out everything I owned in half a second. I’d just been telling people how I was having the best year of my life – I’d finally got the bus paid off and had no payments on anything. Then everything just went.”

The bus crushed multiple vehicles.

Manning’s friends, Rena Austen-Scott and her partner, had their car parked to the side of the bus. When it fell, it nicked the boot before crushing Manning’s car.

“We were quite lucky his car was there because it cushioned our fall quite a bit. We all could have snapped our necks otherwise.”

Other campers in the reserve were unaffected by the gusts, despite having lighter vehicles than Manning’s.

Manning had lived on buses for about 25 years and said he knew to park his vehicle facing into the wind in case of strong gusts.

However, he said this wind had come completely out of the blue.

“In 25 years living on buses, I’ve never even heard of a bus doing that,” Manning said.

He did not have any insurance on his bus, car, or motorcycle.

Having only bought the Harley two weeks earlier, Manning had held off riding it until he could get it insured.

His brother was attempting to put the bike back together using spare parts.

“I was amazed how helpful he’s been – it’s mind-blowing.”

Manning said he was grateful to the Featherston community, who had supported him after the incident.

Austen-Scott and other friends had set up a Givealittle page which had raised $1580 by the time of publication.

Any funds raised would help to get Manning back on his feet and fix up his three vehicles.

“He’s a top guy,” Austen-Scott said. “He’s helped my partner and me so much over the years.”

She said Manning was the sort of person who came to the aid of strangers.

“He never drives past someone with a punctured tyre. He’s one of those guys who is there when you need him.”

Since the incident, a friend had put Manning up at their house. However, Manning said he felt most at home on a bus.

“I’ve done so many years in buses that sleeping inside feels like sleeping in a hall. A bus gives me the security of a little place to call my own.”

  • To donate, visit givealittle.co.nz/cause/help-eric-rebuild-his-life

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