The 58-year-old driver of the bus that crashed in the Hunter Valley, killing 10 people and injuring multiple others, has been formally charged.
NSW Police confirmed on Monday afternoon that the Maitland man was charged with ten counts of dangerous driving occasioning death, driving in a dangerous manner and negligent driving.
He was refused bail and will appear at Cessnock Local Court tomorrow.
The bus was transporting 35 guests from the wedding of local couple Mitchell Gaffney and Maddy Edsell at Wandin Estate in the Lovedale area of the Hunter Valley, with some passengers heading home and some going to celebrate further.
Gaffney is a member of local AFL team the Singleton Roosters, with many people from the club believed to be in attendance.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, a Singleton Rooster committee member said they were in “total shock”. They attended the wedding, but left before the bus departed.
“I was at the wedding, not on the bus, obviously, but yes I was there earlier,” the committee member told the Daily Telegraph.
Wandin Estate cellar door manager Matt also told the publication he had “no words” to describe how staff were feeling after the bus crash.”
“I can’t even get the words out, that should pretty much tell you how traumatised we all are,” Matt told the Daily Telegraph.
The Guardian reports that Gaffney played for Warrandyte Cricket Club in Victoria before relocating to NSW’s Hunter Valley several years ago. Club president Royce Jaksic told The Guardian that eight players and five partners attended Mitchell Gaffney and Maddy Edsell’s wedding.
“The information is still extremely sketchy,” Jaksic told the outlet. “We are very hopeful and quite confident that none of our players and their partners have lost their lives. We probably had 13 or 14 people on the bus … for that to be the case is just a blessing. Someone was looking after them.”
Earlier on Monday, NSW Premier Chris Minns offered an update on the condition of those hospitalised.
Speaking to media on the scene at around midday, Premier Minns said that NSW Health had confirmed that one person remained in a critical condition.
“New South Wales Health reports as of 10AM this morning, there’s 21 patients being treated across four hospitals in New South Wales.” Premier Minns said.
“One patient is in a critical condition and eight patients are in a stable condition at John Hunter Hospital, five patients are in a stable condition at Maitland Hospital, five patients are in a stable condition at Calvary Mater Hospital Newcastle, and two patients are in a stable condition in the RPA in Sydney.”
NSW Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Tracy Chapman added at the press conference that the 10 known victims of the bus crash “remained in situ” as police work through the crime scene. As of Monday afternoon, the deceased have been transported from the scene.
Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese gave a short press conference. Speaking in Canberra, Albanese expressed his sadness that the accident occurred after a wedding.
“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. 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 Prime Minister also sent his best wishes to the passengers in hospital.
“And to all those 25 in hospital, there are — they’re at John Hunter Hospital, but many have been flown to Sydney for care, we’re thinking of you, and sending our best wishes for a recovery.”
Albanese also thanked emergency services workers who attended the scene of the bus crash.
“I want to give our thanks to the first responders, those who arrived at this terrible scene, just – I can’t imagine what they were confronted with, what they had to deal with. But they did as they always did – their job. They did their best looking after people, trying to do their best to save lives, and to assist in the recovery at this horrific scene. So, to them, to the doctors and nurses, to the police and emergency services, to those who transported the injured to hospital, I say once again, thank you.”
The Prime Minister ended his speech with a message of support to the families of those affected by the bus crash.
“We’re thinking of you, Australia wraps its arms around you and Australians’ hopes and prayers are with you on this tragic day.”
In a press conference on Monday morning, NSW Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Tracy Chapman gave more detail into the amount of people hospitalised after the crash.
“10 people [are] confirmed deceased and a further 25 people have been transported to hospital, and at this stage they have varying injuries … the injuries vary and I couldn’t elaborate accurately on all of those injuries.”
Channel 9 reporter Hayley Francis previously told TODAY that “the extent of these injuries are very serious… some are fighting for their life here including at John Hunter [Hospital] and RPA in Sydney.”
The bus crash occurred at about 11.30PM on Sunday night on Wine Country Drive in Greta in NSW’s Hunter Valley, located about 40 minutes from Newcastle.
Acting Commissioner Chapman said in the press conference: “Upon arrival, it was identified that a coach had overturned on that roundabout and at this stage it appears to be a single-vehicle collision.”
According to TODAY, an off-duty paramedic was first on the scene and once emergency calls went out, up to six helicopters from across NSW attended, transporting those injured in the bus crash to hospitals in Newcastle and Sydney.
A wedding guest spoke outside Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital following the crash, saying the Hunter Valley event had been a “fairytale” wedding.
“Nice day, pretty good wedding, fairytale stuff. We wanted to go get drunk and got the news that there had been a crash and we all started panicking. Nobody knows what’s going on.”
Police are working to identify the victims. According to ABC News, police believe there were no children on board.
NSW Police and the Prime Minister urged friends and family who are concerned about their loved ones to contact Cessnock police station on (02) 4991 0199.
If you have information about the bus crash contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 in order to keep the police station’s lines open for family and friends.
More to come.