Hunter Valley wedding crash: Venue ‘deeply saddened’ by accident and sends condolences


Guests and vendors shared photographs of a ‘beautiful’ young couple celebrating their nuptials hours before a horror bus crash on the way home from the wedding which killed 10 people.

Madeleine Edsell and Mitchell Gaffney tied the knot at Wandin Valley Estate in the Hunter Valley on Sunday afternoon.

Just hours later, 10 of their guests were tragically killed when the shuttle bus they were travelling in rolled on Wine Country Drive in Greta, 12km away, on the way home from the wedding. A further 21 people remain in hospitals across the state for treatment.

One patient is in a critical condition, while the remainder are stable, NSW Premier Chris Minns said. ‘Today is a day to hug someone you love, and to remember how precious life is,’ he said.

The couple were married out on the pontoon overlooking a lake as the sun shone down, before all the guests gathered for a group photo in the gardens.

It’s understood their emcee, local reporter Alex Tigani, is among the injured currently recovering at John Hunter Hospital.

Photos from inside the reception show the newlyweds cutting into their cake as a live band plays in the background and Mr Tigani speaks to the crowd.

The bride arrived at the ceremony in a restored 1952 Beetle convertible, which her dad had been working on to have it ready in time for the wedding. 

The 35 passengers had attended the wedding of Madeleine Edsell and Mitchell Gaffney at the Wandin Valley Estate just 12km away from the crash site

Photos from inside the reception show the newlyweds cutting into their cake as a live band plays in the background and Tigani speaks to the crowd

The couple were married out on the pontoon overlooking a lake as the sun shone down, before all the guests gathered for a group photo in the gardens

The couple were married out on the pontoon overlooking a lake as the sun shone down, before all the guests gathered for a group photo in the gardens

The coach carrying 39 passengers was travelling from the Wandin Estate winery wedding venue in the Hunter Valley wine region (pictured) when it rolled at a roundabout currently under construction on Wine Country Drive near the Hunter Expressway off ramp in Greta, 12km away, at 11.30pm on Sunday

The coach carrying 39 passengers was travelling from the Wandin Estate winery wedding venue in the Hunter Valley wine region (pictured) when it rolled at a roundabout currently under construction on Wine Country Drive near the Hunter Expressway off ramp in Greta, 12km away, at 11.30pm on Sunday

The bride arrived at the ceremony in a restored 1952 Beetle convertible, which her dad had been working on to have it ready in time for the wedding

The bride arrived at the ceremony in a restored 1952 Beetle convertible, which her dad had been working on to have it ready in time for the wedding

The 10 victims of the tragic bus crash in NSW's Hunter Valley region on Sunday night have been identified

10 of their guests were tragically killed when the shuttle bus they were travelling in rolled on Wine Country Drive in Greta, 12km away, on the way home from the wedding. A further 25 people were taken to hospital for treatment

She and Mr Gaffney held an intimate ‘first look’ before the ceremony, before jetting off in the convertible for further photos.

The couple’s celebrant described them as a ‘beautiful’ couple in a series of social media posts prior to the tragedy.

‘I’m so happy to have married them,’ she said.

A woman who worked at the function last night told Daily Mail Australia there were about 100 people at the wedding. 

‘It’s just horribly sad,’ she said. ‘For them to all be having so much fun last night then for this to happen.’ 

The woman, who lives locally but didn’t know the couple, visited the crash scene with loved ones on Monday to leave flowers. She said the tragedy would have a massive impact on the community. 

At the conclusion of the reception, a coach carrying 39 passengers was travelling from the wedding venue when it rolled at a roundabout currently under construction on Wine Country Drive in Greta, 12km away, at 11.30pm on Sunday. 

The area was blanketed in heavy fog at the time of the crash.

A local near the scene of the crash said six helicopters landed on a vacant block of land nearby and set up triage.

The company which runs the coach, Linq Bus Lines, has operated for over 30 years and all coaches are fully equipped with seat belts.

Madeleine Edsell and Mitchell Gaffney tied the knot at Wandin Valley Estate in the Hunter Valley on Sunday afternoon

Madeleine Edsell and Mitchell Gaffney tied the knot at Wandin Valley Estate in the Hunter Valley on Sunday afternoon

The 58-year-old bus driver is under arrest and police expect to lay charges later today 

The bus remains on its side, however it is understood a crane will turn it upright today

The bus remains on its side, however it is understood a crane will turn it upright today

Investigators remain on the scene of the horror crash

Investigators remain on the scene of the horror crash

The groom is a member of the local Singleton Roosters football club. Members are now rallying around the newlyweds in the wake of the tragedy.

It’s understood members of the football club are among those injured. 

Nine members of the same cricket club and their partners were among those injured. Warrandyte Cricket Club president Royce Jaksic said all of their players who attended the ceremony are now accounted for.

Mr Jaksic said: ‘I think one has got a broken jaw, a couple have got broken collar bones.

‘One lady has got maybe a back fracture but all of our people are accounted for.’

A spokesperson for the venue said they are ‘providing support to guests who need our help’ in the wake of the horror accident.

‘We are deeply saddened to hear of the bus crash overnight that claimed the lives of some of our guests,’ the spokesperson said.

‘Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of the victims and we are supporting them in any way we can.’

The bus driver, a 58-year-old man, was taken to hospital under police guard for assessment. He is currently under arrest at Cessnock Police Station and police say  charges are pending. 

Police said 11 passengers initially had to be airlifted or taken by ambulance to hospital while 25 others were rushed to hospital with varying injuries following one of Australia’s deadliest road accidents in decades.

They were initially rushed to John Hunter Hospital, but many have now been flown to Sydney for further care. 

Some of the stable victims in hospitals across the state have since provided witness statements to investigators, who are still working to determine exactly what went wrong. 

The couple were married out on the pontoon overlooking a lake as the sun shone down, before all the guests gathered for a group photo in the gardens

The couple were married out on the pontoon overlooking a lake as the sun shone down, before all the guests gathered for a group photo in the gardens

All coaches from the company are fitted with seatbelts

All coaches from the company are fitted with seatbelts

Distraught locals Kim and John Greko (pictured) lay flowers at the scene of the horror crash

Distraught locals Kim and John Greko (pictured) lay flowers at the scene of the horror crash

It is feared more may be dead and still trapped under the wreckage as the salvage operation continues. Police said no children were on board.

Several other passengers were able to free themselves at the time of the crash and seek help.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese issued a statement from Parliament House on Monday morning, describing the tragedy as ‘so cruel and unfair’.

‘All of us know the joy of going to a wedding, a chance to celebrate dear friends and family. They are some of the happiest times that you can have. For a joyous day like that in a beautiful place to end with such terrible loss of life and injury is so cruel and so sad and so unfair,’ he said.

‘People hire a bus for weddings in order to keep their guests safe and that just adds to the unimaginable nature of this tragedy.’

Locals from the ‘close knit community’ are among the victims, the region’s Federal MP Daniel Repacholi confirmed.

Pictured: the Wandin Estate winery

Pictured: the Wandin Estate winery

Emergency services remain on the scene of the crash

Emergency services remain on the scene of the crash

The bus is still on its side, but will be made upright through the course of the day

The bus is still on its side, but will be made upright through the course of the day

Mr Albanese said: ‘The mental scars of this will not go away. They are there forever.

‘When the spotlight leaves the care doesn’t, for people who have witnessed this and for people who have experienced this tragedy firsthand.’

Assistant Commissioner Tracy Chapman said there was ‘sufficient information’ for police to press charges on the bus driver who is currently under arrest in Cessnock Police Station.

‘He’s been the driver of a motor vehicle collision where there have been fatal injuries and there will be charges pending,’ Assistant Commissioner Chapman said.

Police sources told The Age the driver of the bus was not intoxicated and did not blow over the legal blood alcohol limit when tested following the fatal crash.

However, they believe he was driving erratically before the crash.

Ms Chapman said police thought the bus was travelling to Singleton, for accommodation – about 34 minutes away.

‘It’s a tragic set of circumstances. The number of family members, but broader community, who will be impacted by this, you couldn’t count,’ she said.

The scene of the bus crash in Greta, 183km north of Sydney that has killed 10 wedding guests and left 11 others injured. Picture: Nine News

The scene of the bus crash in Greta, 183km north of Sydney that has killed 10 wedding guests and left 11 others injured. Picture: Nine News 

It is believed to be one of the worst road accidents involving multiple fatalities in almost 30 years.

In 1994, a bus crash in Boondall, Queensland, resulted in the death of 12 people.

A year later, a crash between a semi-trailer truck and a bus on Melbourne Cup Day in Wangaratta in Victoria led to the deaths of ten people.

Road diversions and closures are still in place as emergency services continue to investigate the scene.

All northbound and southbound off-ramps from Hunter Expressway to Wine Country Drive remain closed.

Family and friends of anyone who may have been on board the bus are urged to contact Cessnock Police Station on 02 4991 0199.

Witnesses – or anyone with any information about the crash – are urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 to keep the line to Cessnock Police Station clear for concerned family members.



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