Bus driver charged after 'horrific' crash that killed 10, injured 25 in NSW

The driver of the "horrific bus tragedy" in New South Wales that left at least 10 members of a wedding party dead and 25 others injured has been charged by police and will appear in court on Tuesday. 

NSW Police said the driver of the bus - a 58-year-old man - has been charged with 10 counts of dangerous driving occasioning death, driving in a dangerous manner and negligent driving (occasioning death).

The man was refused bail and will appear in Cessnock local court on Tuesday morning (local time). 

NSW Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Tracy Chapman told the media on Monday 36 people were on the bus, including the 58-year-old driver, who was unhurt.

Ten people died in the crash and the remaining 25 people were taken to different hospitals across Sydney, and some had been discharged as of Monday afternoon.

Bus driver charged after 'horrific' crash that killed 10, injured 25 in NSW
Photo credit: 9 News

An investigation was launched following the crash, with part of that covering if seatbelts were fitted to the bus and if they were worn at the time of the accident.

Police said at just after 11:30pm on Sunday, emergency services were called to the roundabout on Wine Country Dr near the Hunter Expressway off-ramp in the small town of Greta. 

The guests on the bus had all been celebrating a wedding at a local winery and their ride home rolled over at a roundabout, about 17 minutes into the trip. 

Wedding guests who spent the day celebrating were told of the tragedy and left completely shaken.

"It was a nice day… and we went to come back and get drunk, and we got the news that there had been a crash and we all started panicking," one wedding guest told 7 News.

Chapman on Monday provided more details about how the crash happened, saying it was a "fairly frantic scene". 

"A number of passengers were able to be extracted through the front windscreen of the bus - and then to deal with those in terms of that triage process with New South Wales ambulance."

Floral tributes lie next to a road near the site of a bus crash.
Floral tributes lie next to a road near the site of a bus crash. Photo credit: Getty Images

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said the driver underwent mandatory testing for alcohol and drugs, and the cause of the crash may not be known for some time.

"It will require scientific examination and that takes time," she told reporters later on Monday. "The most complex part of this job ahead of police now is actually accounting for the victims and the passengers on the bus."

Australia Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressed his condolences following the "horrific" crash.

"All Australians waking up to tragic news from the Hunter send our deepest sympathies to the loved ones of those killed in this horrific bus tragedy," Albanese said on Twitter. 

"For a day of joy to end in such devastating loss is cruel indeed. Our thoughts are also with those who have been injured."

In a statement Monday, the wedding venue said it was supporting guests who need their help, adding it wished to protect their privacy.

Local Mayor Jay Suvaal said he first heard about the tragic bus crash on social media when locals were commenting on it.

"I saw the accident on live traffic about a bus crash but it's only been later on this morning that I've been able to get any further details that have come through from the police," he told Channel 9's Today program.

He said the fatal crash is "truly horrific" and isn't the news you want to wake up to.

"My thoughts are obviously with the people involved in the accident but their family and friends, as well as the first responders on scene, because it must have been truly horrible for them as well.

"I think it will send shockwaves right through the broader community. The community, we are a close-knit community and there'll be massive showings of support, I imagine, throughout the day." 

The small town is located about 125km north of Sydney and 40km northwest of Newcastle.