Initial investigations show Greyhound bus travelled on wrong side of road before fatal collision, police say (2024)

Police say initial investigations into a fatal bus crash in north Queensland show the Greyhound bus travelled onto the wrong side of the road before colliding with a four-wheel drive towing a caravan.

The accident, which left three people dead and two critically injured, occurred on the Bruce Highway north of Bowen on Sunday morning.

All the fatalities and injured passengers were onboard the bus.

Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Ry Collins said he was satisfied with the response of emergency responders on "a challenging stretch of road".

"It's probably one of the sections of the Bruce Highway that we do often see accidents occurring," he said.

"It's got fairly narrow shoulders on the road and there are some sections there that if you don't have your wits about you, it is easy to veer off or veer into the other lane if you're not fully focused on what you're doing."

LNP Member for Burdekin Dale Last said where the head-on crash occurred was "not a very safe section of highway at all".

Queensland Premier Steven Miles said it would be "premature to speculate" about the cause of the crash.

"Our investigators will do what they do best, and that is identify what exactly has happened here," he said.

"I wouldn't get too far ahead of ourselves when it comes to this particular incident."

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Road conditions to form part of investigation

Queensland Police Superintendent Graeme Paine said on Monday the crash occurred on "open highway" and that "road conditions certainly form a major part of the investigation".

"An incident of this nature is very complex, so we want to go through that holistic investigation before we really move towards looking at exactly why and how it's occurred," Superintendent Paine said.

"The impact that had occurred, it pushed the bus across to the railway line — hence we had the closure of the railway line at the time."

Initial investigations show Greyhound bus travelled on wrong side of road before fatal collision, police say (1)

He said the Bruce Highway had since reopened. Queensland Rail said on Monday the local rail line remained closed.

The four-wheel drive was travelling south and the bus was driving north when the collision occurred at about 11am in a 100kph zone on the Bruce Highway.

Three bus passengers died — a woman in her 30s, a woman in her 20s and a 56-year-old Townsville woman.

Paramedics assessed 27 people at the scene.

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Townsville Hospital and Health Service (THHS) said seven patients — five men and two women — were transported to Townsville University Hospital for treatment.

Two women and a man were discharged from the hospital early on Sunday evening.

Townsville University Hospital acting chief medical officer Dr Jason Yates confirmed on Monday four men were still being treated in the hospital — two of them, aged 23 and 24, remain in a critical condition in intensive care.

Dr Yates said two men other men, aged 27 and 51, were stable.

He said the hospital had initially mobilised to respond to a mass casualty event.

"Our teams worked really hard, we were able to mobilise additional medical, surgical, nursing, allied health and social work staff who all came in on a long weekend to do their thing," he said.

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Describing the collision as "very, very confronting", Superintendent Paine said support would be provided to those impacted by Sunday's events.

"If anyone needs any help or needs any assistance trying to deal with an incident that is this significant, please reach out," he said.

"You can reach out through any local providers or you can reach out through any of the emergency services — we will connect you with referral services to try and assist you in dealing with it.

"This is a very significant incident and the impacts from this will be felt right throughout the community, right across the state and possibly across the nation as well."

Initial investigations show Greyhound bus travelled on wrong side of road before fatal collision, police say (2)

Busy time of year on the roads

Local publican Toni Dale said there was a "sombre" energy in the pub on Sunday as news of the fatalities trickled in to clientele who were waiting for the road to reopen.

She said it was a busy time of year on the roads.

"This time of the year between Mother's Day and Father's Day with travellers all heading north," she said.

Initial investigations show Greyhound bus travelled on wrong side of road before fatal collision, police say (3)

She said locals do "get angry" about the high frequency of crashes in the area.

"Everyone has to drive this road. We're 50 [kilometres] from Ayr, 60 from Bowen, so if we have to go anywhere, we're all on that road.

"You can see how busy the road is getting."

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Initial investigations show Greyhound bus travelled on wrong side of road before fatal collision, police say (2024)
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