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‘Absolutely heartbroken’: Wedding bus crash victims named, as driver charged

25 people survive horrific Hunter Valley bus crash

A bus driver charged over a fatal crash that killed 10 passengers returning from a wedding will face court on Tuesday, as horror details emerge from the accident.

Brett Andrew Button, 58, was charged late Monday with 10 counts of dangerous driving occasioning death – drive manner dangerous, and negligent driving (occasioning death).

The bus, a 2009 Volvo B7R, was returning 35 guests from the wedding reception of bride and groom Madeleine Edsell and Mitchell Gaffney in the picturesque NSW Hunter Valley.

The accident happened about 12 kilometres from the Wandin Estate Winery wedding venue at Lovedale, as the bus drove to Singleton about 11.30pm on Sunday.

Media are reporting that some passengers allegedly voiced concern about the speed the bus was travelling at, moments before it rolled on a roundabout.

A report in The Daily Telegraph states the driver allegedly said through the intercom: “If you think that was fast … watch this” before losing control near the Hunter Expressway off-ramp at Greta.

Ten people were confirmed dead in Australia’s worst road accident since 1994, with 25 others taken to hospital with varying injuries — including one person who remains in a critical condition.

Police confirmed on Wednesday morning that 14 people remained in hospital, including two in intensive care.

They are aged from 20 to 60 years.

The driver was also taken to hospital under police guard for mandatory testing and assessment.

He was later transferred to Cessnock Police Station, where he was charged and refused bail.

Identifying the victims

Police have begun the grisly task of removing and formally identifying bodies trapped under the bus.

Sydney Women’s AFL Masters named two victims as mother and daughter Nadene (Nads) McBride and Kyah McBride. They were on the bus with their husband and father, Graham, who was injured.

“Our thoughts and sympathy extend to all the friends, families and team mates of Nads and Kyah and the Singleton football community. Please reach out to each other for support.”

Friends paid tribute to the mother and daughter.

“Two wonderful ladies taken too soon. You both gave so much, my heart goes out to their family and friends,” wrote Leanne Lister.

“Absolutely heartbroken, so very sad to hear this news. May they rest in peace,” wrote Rachael Elcoate.

The Sydney Women’s AFL Masters has paid tribute to Kyah McBride and mum Nadene McBride. Photo: Facebook

Some passengers whose families have been contacted by police, and told that formal identification could take days or weeks, have been named by News Corp media outlets.

They include husband and wife Andrew and Lynan Scott, from Singleton, and the McBrides, also from Singleton.

Mrs McBride’s husband Graham was reportedly injured and Kyah’s boyfriend Kane Symons was unaccounted for.

Other passengers were reported as Zachary Bray from Byron Bay, Angus Craig from Queensland, Darcy Bulman from Melbourne and Tori Cowburn and Rebecca Mullen from Singleton.

Mr Gaffney and Ms Edsell were reportedly involved with local AFL club the Singleton Roosters.

The Warrandyte Cricket Club in Melbourne’s outer-east, where Mr Gaffney is understood to have lived until 2017, said several of its members were involved in the crash.

The bus rolled onto its side at a roundabout in the Hunter Valley. Photo: AAP

Acting Assistant Police Commissioner Tracy Chapman earlier described a frantic scene for those who arrived.

“Emergency responders … were able to smash the front windscreen of the bus in order to pull some people out,” Ms Chapman said.

Police have begun taking witness statements from survivors.

“They’re providing a version of, or witness statement in terms of what they experienced and that will assist us with our inquiries and furthering that investigation,” Ms Chapman said.

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said the use of seatbelts would undoubtedly be looked at by the coroner.

“Whether they were actually wearing seatbelts or not … certainly all of that will come under scrutiny,” she said.

“Again that will be a matter the coroner will have a look and ultimately the driver will have to think about that for the rest of his life.”

Complex investigation

On Monday afternoon, the bus was stood up in a ‘delicate’ operation at the site of the crash.

Police said emergency services were called to the roundabout on Wine Country Drive, near the Hunter Expressway off-ramp, at Greta about 11.30pm on Sunday, after reports a coach had rolled.

Investigations continued at the scene on Wednesday. It includes specialist forensic police and officers from the crash investigation unit.

The large-scale emergency response involved officers from Hunter Valley Police District, Police Rescue, Traffic and Highway Patrol, NSW Ambulance paramedics, NSW Fire and Rescue, NSW Rural Fire Service, and helicopters for hospital transports.

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