At least 10 people have died and 25 others have been rushed to hospital after a bus returning from a ‘fairytale’ wedding crashed at a roundabout in a small town in New South Wales, as the driver is currently under arrest, pending charges.
The coach carrying 39 passengers was travelling from the Wandin Estate winery wedding venue in the Hunter Valley when it rolled at a roundabout currently under construction on Wine Country Drive near the Hunter Expressway off ramp in Greta, 12km away, at 11.30pm on Sunday.
It’s understood the area was blanketed in heavy fog at the time of the crash.
The bus driver, a 58-year-old man, was taken to hospital under police guard for assessment. He is currently under arrest at Cessnock Police Station and police say there will be charges pending.
The scene of the bus crash in Greta, 183km north of Sydney that has killed 10 wedding guests and left 11 others injured. Picture: Nine News
A victim of the crash receives treatment from paramedics (pictured). The bus driver, a 58-year-old man, was taken to hospital under police guard for assessment
Police said that 10 passengers had died while 25 others were rushed to hospital with varying injuries following one of Australia’s deadliest road accidents in decades.
It is feared more may be dead and still trapped under the wreckage as the salvage operation continues. Police said no children were on board.
The bodies of those who have died have not yet been removed from the scene where the bus is still lying on its side.
Police are still working to identify the crash victims and contact their next of kin.
7News reported that the death toll ‘would likely’ climb to as high as 15. The most critically injured including those with lost limbs were taken to John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, the largest trauma hospital in the region.
Two people were airlifted to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney for life-saving surgery.
Distraught locals Kim and John Greko (pictured) lay flowers at the scene of the horror crash
Assistant Commissioner Tracy Chapman said there was ‘sufficient information’ for police to press charges on the bus driver who is currently under arrest in Cessnock Police Station.
‘He’s been the driver of a motor vehicle collision where there have been fatal injuries and there will be charges pending,’ Assistant Commissioner Chapman said.
Police sources told The Age the driver of the bus was not intoxicated and did not blow over the legal blood alcohol limit when tested following the fatal crash.
However, they believe he was driving erratically before the crash.
Ms Chapman said police thought the bus was travelling to Singleton, for accommodation – about 34 minutes away.
‘It’s a tragic set of circumstances. The number of family members, but broader community, who will be impacted by this, you couldn’t count,’ she said.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said that people hire buses for weddings ‘in order to keep their guests safe’ which just added to the ‘unimaginable nature of this tragedy’.
‘All of us know the joy of going to a wedding, a chance to celebrate dear friends and family. They are some of the happiest times that you can have,’ he said.
‘For a joyous day like that in a beautiful place to end with such terrible loss of life and injury is so cruel and so sad and so unfair.’
The coach carrying 39 passengers was travelling from the Wandin Estate winery wedding venue in the Hunter Valley wine region (pictured) when it rolled at a roundabout currently under construction on Wine Country Drive near the Hunter Expressway off ramp in Greta, 12km away, at 11.30pm on Sunday
A wedding guest told 7News: ‘It was a nice day, a pretty good wedding… fairytale stuff really… and we went to come back and get drunk, and we got the news that there had been a crash, and we all started panicking’
It’s believed that many of the guests had travelled from interstate with guests attending a wedding at the nearby Wandin Estate winery
Mr Albanese thanked the first responders.
‘The mental scars of this will not go away. They are there forever and we need to make sure that when the spotlight leaves the care doesn’t, for people who have witnessed this and for people who have experienced this tragedy firsthand,’ he said.
It’s believed that many of the guests had travelled from interstate with guests attending a wedding at the nearby Wandin Estate winery.
One attendee spoke of his disbelief after being told about the tragedy.
‘It was a nice day, a pretty good wedding… fairytale stuff really… and we went to come back and get drunk, and we got the news that there had been a crash, and we all started panicking,’ an attendee told 7NEWS.
NSW Premier Chris Minns said: ‘This is a profoundly tragic event. I know the whole community of NSW, and in particular the people of the Hunter, will be shocked and saddened to wake up to this news today.’
‘Everybody is pulling together and basically it will be a case of making sure that the families and the community are supported in such a terrible time,’ she said.
Assistant Commissioner Tracy Chapman (pictured) said there was ‘sufficient information’ for police to press charges on the bus driver who is currently under arrest in Cessnock Police Station
The 58-year-old bus driver has been taken to hospital under police guard for assessment, NSW Police said
Pictured: the Wandin Estate winery
Chilling audio from emergency radios responding to the crash reveals the horror of the scene.
‘Major incident declared. We have a bus roll over. Multiple patients,’ a first responder can be heard saying in recording from a triple-0 call shared by Today.
‘At this stage we have identified seven, I repeat, seven code fours.’
‘At this stage we have identified seven, I repeat, seven code fours.
‘We have one red label patient whose injuries are severe. And unfortunately, we are expecting that is also going to code four.’
‘Code four’ refers to a patient that has died.
Police at the scene were reportedly trying to understand how a bus could have rolled at the ‘large’ roundabout.
Peta Hughes, a local business owner in Branxton just slightly north of Greta said the roundabout where the bus crashed had been reduced to one lane due to construction work.
‘They’ve got barriers and the safety bollards and things up around there. It’s a 40km/h zone,’ she told News Breakfast.
But Federal MP Dan Repacholi said he did not see how the road being reduced to one lane could have been an issue.
‘We drive around the Hunter roads every day of the week. Those roads in that area are good roads. So I really can’t see that being an issue,’ he told News Breakfast.
NSW state member for Cessnock Clayton Barr said: ‘It was on a roundabout, the bus couldn’t have been doing any more than 20-30km/h.’
‘It’s an incredibly well-lit area, the road surface is terrific. It’s just a reminder of how fragile our lives are when we’re out on the road really. Simple things, small things.’
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese sent his condolences to those involved, saying: ‘For a day of joy to end in such devastating loss is cruel indeed’
Cessnock Mayor Jay Suvaal said the driving conditions appeared to be ‘foggy’.
‘There does appear to have been a lot of fog around as well,’ he said.
‘Until we know the crash investigation circumstances we’re not really sure about what may have contributed to it.’
A crime scene has been established and will be examined by specialist forensic police and the Crash Investigation Unit.
After they were called to the scene, police said a ‘large-scale emergency response commenced involving officers from Hunter Valley Police District, Police Rescue, Traffic and Highway Patrol, NSW Ambulance paramedics, NSW Fire and Rescue, NSW Rural Fire Service, and various helicopters for hospital transports’.
Wine Country Drive remains closed between New England Highway and Bridge St, along with northbound & southbound off-ramps from Hunter Express to Wine Country Drive.
Motorists have been advised to use an alternative route and allow extra travel time.
A spokesperson for the Wandin Valley Estate said they were ‘deeply saddened to hear of the bus crash overnight that claimed the lives of some of our guests’.
‘Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of the victims and we are supporting them in any way we can.
‘At this time we are providing support to those guests who need our help and we wish to maintain their privacy and won’t be making further statements.’
The bus company identified in the fatal crash has been identified as Linq Bus Lines, a business with more than 30 years’ experience.
It is believed to be one of the worst road accidents involving multiple fatalities in almost 30 years.
In 1994, a bus crash in Boondall, Queensland, resulted in the death of 12 people.
A year later, a crash between a semi-trailer truck and a bus on Melbourne Cup Day in Wangaratta in Victoria led to the deaths of ten people.
Family and friends of anyone who may have been on board the bus are urged to contact Cessnock Police Station on 02 4991 0199.
Witnesses – or anyone with any information about the crash – are urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 to keep the line to Cessnock Police Station clear for concerned family members.
The roundabout where the bus crashed crashed had been reduced to one lane due to construction work over the past few months
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12183535/At-ten-people-dead-horror-bus-crash-New-South-Wales.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Hunter Valley bus crash leaves 10 dead after wedding in NSW