Driver was going ‘too quick’ in fatal wedding bus crash

A bus driver was driving too fast when the vehicle crashed in Australia, killing 10 wedding guests and injuring 25 others, police have alleged.

Brett Button was arrested after mandatory hospital tests and had been in police custody but was released on bail when he appeared at Cessnock Local Court on Tuesday.

He appeared in court charged with 10 counts of dangerous driving in relation to each death and one count of negligent driving.

The 58-year-old was driving 35 passengers on a 20-minute journey from a wedding reception at the Wandin Estate Winery to the town of Singleton, both in the Hunter Valley wine region of New South Wales state, when the 2009 Volvo bus rolled on its side and hit a guard rail.

The crash happened just after 11.30pm local time on Sunday in foggy conditions in the town of Greta, New South Wales – about 112 miles (180km) northwest of Sydney.

Earlier, acting police assistant commissioner David Waddell alleged Button “entered that roundabout driving in a manner that was inconsistent with the conditions”.

“Obviously, the speed was too quick for him to negotiate that roundabout, causing the vehicle to fall onto its left side and cause those injuries,” Mr Waddell told reporters.

Police said the bus driver underwent mandatory blood and urine tests for drugs and alcohol on Sunday night but no impairment was detected.

Of the 25 passengers taken to hospitals, 14 have not been discharged, with two remaining in an intensive care unit in a critical but stable condition, Mr Waddell said.

The officer also said the dead and injured were aged from their 20s to their 60s.

He declined to comment on media reports that Mr Button told passengers through the bus’s microphone shortly before the crash: “If you think that was fast… watch this.”

Mr Waddell also refused to comment on reports that passengers were standing moments before the crash.

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Prosecutors said Button could face further charges in relation to the seriously injured survivors, and argued against him being released on bail.

However, magistrate Robyn Richardson said his family ties and bail conditions – which include that he does not drive and that he observes an overnight curfew at his Maitland home – could reduce his risk of fleeing the country or interfering with witnesses.

She also noted a trial was unlikely to be heard before late 2024.

Button sat with his head bowed throughout the short bail hearing and wept when it was noted that he was clearly suffering along with the rest of the community that had been devastated by the crash.

Ms Richardson said there were concerns about his wellbeing.

Police statements made by 10 passengers about Button’s “prolonged behaviour” before the crash created a strong prosecution case, she said, without elaborating on that behaviour.