According to police, a bus driver was speeding when the bus rolled on its side and struck a guard post in a wine region of Australia, killing ten wedding guests and wounding 25 more.
The 2009 Volvo bus that Brett Andrew Button, 58, was operating crashed at a roundabout late on Sunday while it was transporting 35 passengers from a wedding reception at the Wandin Estate Winery to the town of Singleton, both in the Hunter Valley wine area of the Australian state of New South Wales.
When Button appeared in the Cessnock Local Court on Tuesday, he had been in police custody but had been freed on bail after being charged with ten charges of hazardous driving in connection with each death and one case of negligent driving.
David Waddell, an acting police assistant commissioner, had earlier said that Button had “entered that roundabout driving in a manner inconsistent with the conditions.”
“The speed was too quick for him to negotiate that roundabout, causing the vehicle to fall onto its left side and cause those injuries,” Waddell told the press.
Since a bus in Brisbane fell on its side over a highway and down a steep slope, killing 12 people and injuring 38 more, it has been Australia’s deadliest traffic tragedy.
Button was subjected to statutory drug and alcohol tests, according to the police, but no signs of impairment were found.
Courtney Broom, the prosecutor, argued against releasing Button on bond.
Broom informed the court that ten witnesses testified to Mr. Button’s persistent behavior and risky driving.
“There is evidence in the fact sheet that says they (passengers) fastened their seatbelts,” Broom continued.
The defense attorney, Chris O’Brien, emphasized Button’s spotless criminal history and 30-year driving record, including just seven traffic infractions.
According to Magistrate Robyn Richardson, his links to his family and the terms of his bail may lessen his danger of leaving the country or interfering with witnesses. She added that it was doubtful that a trial would start before the end of 2024.
The terms of his bail include a driving ban and an overnight curfew at his Maitland, Hunter Valley residence.
Throughout the brief bail hearing, Button sat with his head lowered and sobbed when Richardson highlighted that he was obviously in pain and expressed worry for his well-being.
Richardson stated, “It is obvious to this court that he suffers alongside the rest of the community.”
Broom stated that Button might be charged further regarding the severely hurt survivors.
Two people remained in an intensive care unit on Tuesday with critical but stable conditions out of the 25 passengers evacuated to hospitals, according to Waddell.
The victims’ ages ranged from 20 to 60, according to Waddell.
He declined to respond to media claims that Button said, “If you think that was fast, watch this,” to passengers over the bus’s microphone just before the collision.
Waddell declined to respond to rumors that some passengers were standing before the collision.
The bus involved in the collision is owned by Linq Buslines, which offers school bus and event charter services. According to its website, seatbelts are standard on all of its buses.
According to New South Wales law, bus passengers are required to use seatbelts if they are offered.
The incident has reignited the debate over national regulations against Australia’s seatbelt requirements.