Australia wedding bus crash: Driver going ‘too quick’, police tell court

Man (58) charged after 10 people died and 25 injured in an incident in Hunter Valley wine region

New South Wales police allege the driver of a bus crash that left 10 wedding guests dead and 25 injured was driving “too quick” for the conditions of the road, as two survivors remain in a critical condition.

Brett Button (58), was granted bail on Tuesday morning and left the Cessnock police station several hours later. He has been charged with 10 counts of dangerous driving occasioning death, and one further count of negligent driving in relation to all 10 deaths.

Mr Button left the police station with the hood of his jumper drawn tightly around his face and walked briskly to a car waiting for him at the back of the police station.

During the bail hearing at the Cessnock local court, magistrate Robyn Richardson noted despite the strong prosecution case, “bail should not be denied as a punishment.”


“It is clear to this court he suffers along with the rest of the community ... I see before me a man suffering.”

Police, who had opposed Mr Button’s release, told the court they had mounted a strong prosecution case that showed he took the roundabout far too quickly.

Some survivors had given evidence of the driver’s “prolonged” unsafe behaviour and call to “fasten your seat belts” moments before he hit the bend and the bus tipped, the court was told.

Earlier on Tuesday morning, superintendent David Waddell alleged the driver, who was taking passengers from a wedding venue in Lovedale in the Hunter Valley wine region to Singleton in foggy conditions late on Sunday, “entered that roundabout driving in a manner that was inconsistent with the conditions”.

“The speed was too quick for him to negotiate that roundabout, causing the vehicle to fall on to its left side and cause those injuries,” Supt Waddell alleged.

Nine passengers died at the scene, while one died in hospital. Supt Waddell said that 12 passengers have been released from various local and Sydney hospitals as of last night, but that 14 remain.

Two passengers are in intensive care at the John Hunter hospital, in a critical but stable condition.

“The injuries range from lacerations to breaks and fractures. There’s minor injuries to very serious injuries with two in ICU,” Supt Waddell said.

Supt Waddell said the victims range from in their 20s to 60s, and are locals as well as interstate guests.

Most of the local victims, as well as the bride and groom, are from the town of Singleton. The newly-weds, Mitchell Gaffney and Maddy Edsell, who were not on the bus, were both keen footballers and belonged to the Singleton men’s and women’s teams, the Roosters and Roosterettes.

Mayor Sue Moore said the community is struggling to come to terms with the deaths.

“I understand seven of the victims are from Singleton – so, struggling still, coming to terms with it. The wider community as well as the families, obviously,” she said.

Police will conduct mechanical examinations of the 57-seat Volvo bus on Tuesday.

The Australian prime minister, Anthony Albanese, spoke about the tragedy again on Tuesday, describing it as “beyond belief”.

“It’s just such a horrific incident to occur. People associate weddings with love and lifelong commitments and celebrations with family and friends. And for it to end in this horrific tragedy, with so many deaths, so many injuries ... Of course, the scars will last for such a long, long period of time,” he told ABC radio.

“It is going to be very difficult for the communities involved, the two sporting teams involved as well. It is just a tragedy beyond belief.” – Guardian with Australian Associated Press