Driver to pay bus vic­tims


A bus driver has been or­dered to pay $10,800 to nine pas­sen­gers - in­clud­ing Aus­tralian tourists - who were in­jured in a clifftop crash near Queen­stown.

Peter An­thony McEn­tyre, 65, of Kingston, ap­peared be­fore Judge Tony Couch dur­ing the two­day trial in Queen­stown Dis­trict Court.

He was charged with danger­ous driv­ing caus­ing in­juries to nine pas­sen­gers when a Con­nectabus - the public trans­port provider in Queen­stown - crashed in Arthurs Pt on Oc­to­ber 26, 2013. He was also dis­qual­i­fied for 15 months. The bus skid­ded about 90 me­tres on the ap­proach to the Edith Cavell bridge, stop­ping when it hit a tree and nar­rowly avoided plung­ing into the Shotover River gorge.

Judge Couch said the ev­i­dence showed the brakes were in good or­der be­fore and af­ter the crash, while the de­fen­dant’s view of the brak­ing sys­tem was based on a com­plete mis­un­der­stand­ing of the physics. Vic­tims suf­fered head, neck and fa­cial in­juries, he said.

’’The de­fen­dant’s sug­ges­tion that the rear brakes sim­ply failed on the day in ques­tion is in­cred­i­ble and I do not ac­cept it. Nei­ther brake fail­ure nor road con­tam­i­nants was a cause of this ac­ci­dent. The only ex­pla­na­tion is that the de­fen­dant drove the bus at too great a speed in the cir­cum­stances.’’

McEn­tyre did not agree with ex­pert ev­i­dence that the bus was trav­el­ling around 72kmh when it started to skid. He said he was do­ing about 40kmh to 45kmh.

’’I dis­pute that. There’s no way with that many pas­sen­gers I’d be do­ing more than the speed I have in­di­cated. I have trav­elled that road from the day I was born un­til now. I know it very well. The bus al­ways had a bit of a prob­lem with the brak­ing, pulling to the left.

’’I looked round and saw the car­nage in the back of the bus...It could have been a lot worse. They could have ended up in the Shotover River. They could have been killed.’’

Con­nectabus man­ag­ing direc­tor Ewen McCam­mon said the bus was suc­cess­fully road-tested on Coro­net Peak Rd four days be­fore the crash. A cer­tifi­cate of fit­ness was is­sued in July that year, when the brakes were over­hauled, he said.

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