On Tuesday, police alleged that a bus driver was traveling too fast when the vehicle rolled over and struck a guard rail in heavy fog in an Australian wine region, killing ten wedding guests and injuring 25 others.
Sunday night, 58-year-old Brett Andrew Button was transporting 35 passengers from a wedding reception at Wandin Estate Winery to the town of Singleton in the Hunter Valley wine region of New South Wales when the 2009 Volvo bus tumbled at a roundabout.
According to news.com.au, Button advised his occupants to fasten their seatbelts before the fatal collision.
When Button appeared in the Cessnock Local Court today, he was charged with ten counts of dangerous driving in relation to each fatality and one count of negligent driving. He was released on bail.
Previously, interim Police Assistant Commissioner David Waddell asserted that Button "entered that roundabout driving inconsistently with the conditions."
Waddell told reporters that the driver's speed was excessive for negotiating the roundabout, causing the vehicle to roll onto its left side and causing injuries.
It was Australia's deadliest traffic accident since 1994, when a bus in Brisbane rolled over and plunged down a steep embankment, killing 12 and injuring 38.
Sunday night, police reported that Button submitted to mandatory blood and urine tests for narcotics and alcohol, but no impairment was detected.
The prosecution had opposed Button's release on parole. However, Magistrate Robyn Richardson stated that the defendant's familial relations and bail conditions could lessen his risk of fleeing the country or interfering with witnesses. In addition, she noted it was unlikely a trial would be held before late 2024.
His parole conditions include a prohibition on driving and an overnight curfew at his Maitland, Hunter Valley, residence.
During the brief bail hearing, Button sat with his head bowed and wailed when Richardson remarked that he was suffering alongside the rest of the devastated community. She stated that there were concerns for his health.
She stated that ten passengers' statements to police about Button's "extensive conduct" before the accident created a strong prosecution case but did not elaborate on this conduct.
Prosecutors stated that Button could face additional charges in relation to the survivors who suffered severe injuries.
Waddell reported that 14 of the 25 passengers transported to hospitals had not been discharged, with two remaining in intensive care units in critical but stable condition.
Waddell stated that the deceased and injured ranged in age from their 20s to their 60s.
He declined to comment on media reports that Button told passengers through the bus's microphone shortly before the accident, "If you think that was fast... watch this."
Waddell refused to comment on allegations that passengers were standing before the collision.
The involved vehicle is owned by Linq Buslines, which provides school bus and event charter services. According to its website, all of its buses have seatbelts.
New South Wales law requires bus passengers to wear seat belts if available.