Devastating way family of wedding crash victim, 29, found out he was on the doomed bus – and their heartbreaking reaction when he didn’t answer his phone
- Zachary Bray was one of ten victims in Hunter Valley bus crash
- His family tracked his phone location to roundabout in Greta
Grief-stricken loved ones of Zachary Bray, who died in the horror Hunter Valley bus crash, say they knew hope was lost when their frantic phone calls went unanswered.
The 29-year-old was one of ten people who lost their lives when the coach that was transporting wedding guests crashed at a roundabout on Wine Country Drive near the Hunter Expressway off-ramp at Greta on Sunday.
A further 25 people were injured, nine of which remain stable in hospital.
Mr Bray had attended the wedding at Wandin Estate Winery as a friend of both bride and groom Madeleine Edsell and Mitchell Gaffney and was friends with most of the passengers on board the privately chartered bus.
Andrew Varasadi, Mr Bray’s stepfather, awoke to his wife’s scream as she read a headline about the horror crash the morning after the wedding.
He frantically rang his stepson before checking the location of his phone – which revealed the device was at a roundabout in Greta, where the bus was on its side.
‘(It) sounds weird to hope that your son’s in ICU but that’s what we were hoping for,’ Mr Varasdi told 7News.
‘But then we found out he wasn’t in ICU, so there was only one option left.’
Mr Varasadi, Zachary Bray’s stepfather, said he was awoken the next morning by a scream from his wife as she read a headline about the horror crash
After overcoming a recent battle wit bowel cancer, Mr Bray had become a vocal advocate for early prevention of the disease in young people.
His uncle, Haydon Bray, said it was ‘beyond belief’ that he had died this way.
‘He fought and fought and fought and went through some horrible times to come out the other end,’ he said.
‘(It’s) beyond belief. Brutal.’
It comes as the driver of the bus, Brett Andrew Button, appeared in court on Tuesday where he remained silent during the entirety of his bail application.
He has been charged with 10 counts of dangerous driving causing death.
Magistrate Robyn Richardson granted the 58-year-old bail, saying: ‘It is clear to this court he suffers along with the rest of the community’.
Those words, however, didn’t sit well with Zachary’s family who say the sympathy to the accused has left them feeling ‘numb’.
‘I think it trivialises it and I think judges need to think about what they say and how it impacts people who are actually the real victims in this incident,’ Mr Varasdi said.
On Thursday, police issued defect and infringement notices to Ling Busline, the transport company involved in the crash, after raids on two separate depots.
After recently overcoming bowel cancer, Mr Bray (pictured) had become known as a vocal advocate for early prevention of the disease in young people
Ten people lost their lives after a bus transporting wedding guests crashed at a roundabout on Wine Country Drive near the Hunter Expressway off-ramp at Greta (pictured)
Police and National Heavy Vehicle Regulator inspectors have inspected 20 buses at stations in Wyong and East Gresford near Newcastle.
Seven defect and two infringement notices were handed down for a cracked windscreen, oil leaks, inoperative seatbelts, vehicle lights and insecure seats.
A statement from Ling Buslines said: ‘One major defect identified in the fleet has been rectified’ and that other minor defects were being resolved in the timelines provided by the regulator.
Family and friends of the victims gathered near the site of the tragedy on Thursday evening to thank frontline workers and grieve their loved ones.
Most of the injured survivors have now been discharged from hospital, with the nine still in hospital in a stable condition.