Late on Sunday, a white coach carrying guests from a wedding at a local winery met with a tragic accident. The coach flipped onto its left side, coming to a stop on the pavement near roadside barriers at the entrance to a major roundabout. Emergency workers, wearing high visibility yellow vests, were present at the scene on the foggy night, using their vehicles’ flashing blue and orange lights to transport over 20 injured individuals to the hospital.
Police reported that one patient was in critical condition while the others were stable. Distressing wedding photos shared on social media depicted the smiling guests celebrating on the winery’s lawn just hours before the accident. This incident marks the deadliest recorded accident since 2007.
The 58-year-old bus driver underwent mandatory testing at a hospital and was subsequently arrested. He is currently in custody at the nearby Cessnock police station. Acting Assistant Commissioner Tracy Chapman stated that the driver is cooperating with the investigation, and no charges have been filed at this stage. Authorities are thoroughly examining all aspects of the driver’s behavior.
Chapman mentioned that some passengers were able to free themselves and seek assistance following the crash. Fortunately, no children were involved. It is presumed that the passengers were en route to their accommodations after the wedding festivities.
There were no indications of other vehicles being involved in the crash. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressed his condolences, highlighting that weddings are joyous occasions that should be filled with happiness for friends and family. He emphasized the irony and tragedy of an event meant to keep guests safe ending in such devastating loss of life and injuries.
Albanese conveyed his well wishes for the recovery of those hospitalized and expressed gratitude towards the emergency workers who responded to the scene. The area is currently being examined by specialized forensic police and a Crash Investigation Unit.
The Hunter Valley region, known for its vineyards, kangaroos, and natural bushland, is a popular destination for tourists and group outings. New South Wales Premier Chris Minns extended his deepest condolences to the families and loved ones affected by the accident, acknowledging the stark contrast between the anticipated joy of the wedding day and the undeniable despair experienced by the community. He emphasized that the next few days and weeks might be challenging as the community fully comprehends the magnitude of the tragedy.