27 March ’85
This site is dedicated to the 42 children who lost their lives on this tragic day, the men, women and children who worked frantically to save every possible life and also to family and friends who lost loved ones. It also serves as a reminder to public safety departments all around the world to be ever-prepared for the worst.
27 March 1985
On 27 March 1985, a yellow double-decker bus transporting school children from the Vorentoe High School, left the road as it was crossing over the bridge of the Westdene Dam in Johannesburg. 30 Children swam to safety or were rescued from the rooftop of the bus. 42 Children died.
The Westdene Bus Disaster was very traumatic for everyone involved, directly and indirectly. There are some survivors who still refuse to talk about that dreadful day. There are also reports of suicides in the months and years following the tragedy.
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Two cranes were used to lift the bus from the water. Damage caused by fire fighters using the jaws-of-life can be seen.
Attempts to resuscitate Tanya Pieters with her father (brown shirt) looking on. She was taken to hospital by helicopter but passed away at 6pm the same evening (source: Belinda Kleynhans, sister).
Scenes of chaos as rescuers stand on the roof of the submerged bus, shocked bystanders looking on...
Doctors, nurses and paramedics working frantically to resuscitate some of the young victims...