Hunter Valley bus accident: driver released on bail

Button hails from the Hunter Valley, as do many of the 35 guests he picked up after a wedding.

The public gallery was packed with Button’s family, who also burst into tears in what his attorney said was a sign of his close ties to the community.

Court documents show Button faces ten counts of dangerous driving resulting in death for seven minutes Sunday night, one for each dead passenger.

He is also charged with one count of careless driving resulting in death, which is linked to all of the deaths.

The court concluded that these charges could be increased depending on the injuries suffered by the survivors.

Police opposed Button’s release, saying they feared he might not appear in court because the allegations against him were so serious.

Ten people were killed in the bus accident on Sunday.

Ten people were killed in the bus accident on Sunday.Credit: Nine news

They also fear he may interfere with the investigation or witnesses, the prosecutor told the court. The judge refused to keep Button in custody.

“The legal principle that applies to bail is that bail cannot be refused as a punishment,” Richardson said.

The town of Singleton was home to the newlyweds at Sunday’s wedding, Maddy Edsell and Mitchell Gaffney, as well as many guests. Local football club Singleton Roosters are particularly linked to the tragedy.

Small towns in the Wine Country hold vigils and have set up outreach centers. A pop-in crisis center has been set up in Singleton to provide information and support.

Representatives from NSW Health, the Red Cross, the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program and Centrelink are at the Singleton Youth Venue near the city centre. It remains open for the rest of the week.

Labor MP Emily Suvaal set up the Singleton Youth Venue at a community support centre.

Labor MP Emily Suvaal set up the Singleton Youth Venue at a community support centre. Credit: Rhett Wyman

Emily Suvaal, Labor MP in the NSW House of Lords, told the center on Tuesday afternoon people were in the “initial stages of grief” and were generally comforting one another, but there would be support for anyone who sought it.

“I think a lot of people are really coming to understand everything that happened,” she said.

A similar center was set up near the Branxton crash site.

The Singleton Baptist Church will hold a prayer vigil Tuesday night and Prime Minister Chris Minns will visit the congregation on Wednesday.

The Federal Parliament took a break on Tuesday before Question Time to draw attention to the tragedy.

“The harsh truth is that the mental and emotional scars of this will not fade over time… The prayers of Australians are with you at this extraordinarily difficult and traumatic time,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said.

When Button arrived at his home in Maitland after posting $10,000 bail and surrendering his passport, he was silent.

His attorney, Chris O’Brien, said the driver was glad he was granted bail.

Button arrives home Tuesday after being granted bail.

Button arrives home Tuesday after being granted bail.Credit: Rhett Wyman

“He’s glad to be home, that’s all I have to say,” O’Brien said.

A neighbor described Button as a good family man. “They’re quite a tight-knit family. They have the support of their family and if they ask me anything I can do, I’ll probably say yes.”


Acting Deputy Commissioner David Waddell of NSW Police said nine people died at the scene with one dying in hospital.

“At the time of that initial response, it was pretty chaotic for responders from the police and other emergency services,” he said.

Waddell said the surviving passengers suffered “a fair number of injuries” and were all taken to hospital, although 12 have since been released.

“Injuries range from lacerations to fractures and fractures,” he said.

Nine patients remained at John Hunter Hospital, two at Maitland Hospital and two at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney as of 6pm Tuesday, NSW Health said. All were in stable condition.

New South Wales Police removed the wreckage of the bus from the site of the Wine Country Drive accident on Monday evening.

Flowers were laid near the road, which remains closed.

Police will reopen the road in the coming days “to ensure safe pedestrian access to the site is maintained so the wider community can pay their respects”.

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Justin Scaccy

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