Casey Brown was killed in the Whitsunday bus crash in February 2016. An inquest into the incident begins in March.
Casey Brown was killed in the Whitsunday bus crash in February 2016. An inquest into the incident begins in March.

TMR lawyer seeks medical records for driver in fatal crash

Update: A barrister for Transport and Main Roads has pushed for medical records dating back at least five years to uncover if the driver involved in a fatal bus crash in the Whitsundays had any pre existing conditions that may have precluded him from holding a commercial licence.

Benjamin McMillan, for TMR, argued the information could be linked to why the Whitsunday Transit bus left the road on February 16, 2016 and crashed into a ditch.

Fatal bus crash at Cannon Valley near Airlie Beach.
Fatal bus crash at Cannon Valley near Airlie Beach.

“There is enough evidence in the medical records provided to suggest he was suffering from a number of serious medical conditions in the immediate period before the accident,” Mr McMillan said during a pre-inquest conference in Mackay Coroners Court.

A coronial inquest into the death of Casey Brown has been listed for two days in March this year during which up to six witnesses will be questioned over the fatal crash on Shute Harbour Rd.

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The 19 year old had finished his studies at Tafe in Cannonvale when he jumped on the bus travelling from Airlie Beach to Proserpine.

He had been one of 10 passengers onboard when the route bus, driven by experienced driver Alan Dorman, left the road about 1pm “for reasons still to be determined” and rolled.

The teen suffered traumatic head injuries and was comatose but alive when paramedics arrived. Tragically he could not be revived and died.

Two others also suffered serious injuries, which included a traumatic hand amputation.

Casey Brown was killed in the Whitsunday bus crash in February 2016.
Casey Brown was killed in the Whitsunday bus crash in February 2016.

“It was not required under the Australian standards to be fitted with seatbelts,” Council assist John Aberdeen said, adding that CCTV footage taken inside the bus captured “the moments leading up to, at the time of and immediately after the rollover”.

“The dynamics of what occurred inside the bus are confronting when one sees how the passengers were displaced from their seats and it certainly raises the question of the desirability of seatbelts in these types of buses,” Mr Aberdeen said.

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The inquest will focus on a number of issues including whether the teen’s death could have been prevented had the bus been fitted with compliant seatbelts or driven at the slower speed.

The court heard there was nothing to suggest the bus was travelling beyond the 100km/h speed limit at the time of the crash.

Mr Dorman, 70, was charged with dangerous driving causing death and grievous bodily harm over the crash but died before the case was finalised.

Mr Aberdeen said the Central Coroner would be able to make recommendations including whether or not route buses should travel at a speed under the posted speed limit and if seat belts should be mandatory on route buses.

The scene of the fatal bus crash at Cannon Valley on Shute Harbour Road.
The scene of the fatal bus crash at Cannon Valley on Shute Harbour Road.

But Mr McMillan argued there was a “substantial gap” in the medical evidence so far supplied in the inquest in relation to Mr Dorman – the court heard they were limited to 2016 only.

“What is particularly relevant from my client’s perspective is whether he in fact had medical conditions at the time of the accident that he was in fact obliged by the various statutory obligations upon him to inform the department and (that) might have affected his entitlement to hold a (commercial or any) licence,” Mr McMillan said.

The court heard reference to medical records in 2011 when Mr Dorman’s GP signed medical certificates in relation to his driver’s licence and authorisation to drive a commercial vehicle.

“Your honour will be assisted by the production of all records back to 2011,” Mr McMillan said.

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The court heard TMR also intended to produce a witness to testify about the consequences of limiting the speed of certain vehicles on a high speed road.

Mr Aberdeen labelled Mr McMillan’s submission as “somewhat opaque” in that there was nothing within the evidence to indicate Mr Dorman had been suffering from a condition that may have contributed to the crash.

“I’m opposed to any sort of fishing expedition … to try and seek simply for the sake of finding out whether there’s been a failure to disclose,” Mr Aberdeen said.

Coroner David O’Connell allowed medical records dating back to 2011. 

The witness list also includes the investigating officer, Mackay Forensic Crash unit, the pathologist who performed the autopsy, an independent bus proprietor and a TMR principle engineer.

The inquest will begin on March 2.

Whitsunday Transit fatal bus rollover near Brandy Creek outside Airlie Beach. Bus runs from Airlie Beach to Proserpine several times per day. Pic Bob Fenney.
Whitsunday Transit fatal bus rollover near Brandy Creek outside Airlie Beach. Bus runs from Airlie Beach to Proserpine several times per day. Pic Bob Fenney.

Earlier: A pre-inquest conference into the death of Casey Brown in a fatal bus crash in the Whitsundays begins today.

The 19 year old was killed on February 16, 2016.

He had been a passenger on a Whitsunday Transit bus travelling from Airlie Beach to Proserpine when it left Shute Harbour Road about 1pm and crashed into a ditch.

The bus was not required to be fitted with seatbelts.

Two people also lost limbs and another eight, including a baby, were taken to hospital in what has been labelled one of the region’s worst road incidents.

The inquest will explore a number of issues including if seatbelts on the bus or a slower speed could have prevented Mr Brown’s death.

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Central Coroner David O’Connell will also question if the State Government should reconsider whether route buses should be required to have compliant lap/sash seatbelts for the driver and all passengers, and if this should be done immediately or over a fixed time frame.

Other issues include what caused the bus to veer off the road and roll, if buses such as these should travel at a fixed maximum speed – even if it is lower than the speed zone – and if any new bus should be fitted with seat belts.


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