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.