CESSNOCK, Australia — A bus driver was driving too fast when his 57-seat vehicle rolled on its side and hit a guard rail in heavy fog, killing 10 wedding guests and injuring 25 others, police alleged Tuesday.
Brett Andrew Button, 58, 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 at a roundabout late Sunday.
Button had been in police custody but was released on bail when he appeared in a Cessnock court Tuesday charged with 10 counts of dangerous driving in relation to each death and one count of negligent driving.
Earlier, acting Police Assistant Commissioner David Waddell alleged that 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,” Waddell told reporters.
Police took Button to a hospital for mandatory blood and urine testing for drugs and alcohol Sunday night but said no impairment was detected.
It was Australia’s most deadly road accident since 1994, when a bus skidded on its side across a highway and down a steep embankment in Brisbane, killing 12 people and injuring 38.
Of the 25 passengers taken to hospitals in the latest indicent, 14 had not been discharged by Tuesday, with two remaining in an intensive care unit in critical but stable condition, Waddell said.
The dead and injured were aged from their 20s to their 60s, Waddell said.
He declined to comment on media reports that Button told passengers through the bus’s microphone shortly before the crash, “If you think that was fast … watch this.”
Waddell also declined to comment on reports that passengers were standing moments before the crash.
Linq Buslines, which provides school bus and event charters, owns the bus involved in the crash. Its website says all its buses are equipped with seatbelts.
New South Wales law requires bus passengers to use seatbelts if they are available.
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