Bus driver jailed over AIME bridge crash

A 55-year-old man has been sentenced to five years in jail over the bus crash that injured six AIME attendees in 2016.

A 55-year-old bus driver who was behind the wheel when his coach crashed into a bridge and injured passengers attending the 2016 Asia-Pacific Meetings & Incentives Expo has been jailed.

Jack Aston, who was driving for Gold Bus Ballarat, was transporting AIME attendees in Melbourne when his coach struck the notorious Montague Street bridge, failing to clear the three-metre overpass.

Six passengers were injured in the crash, with some believed to have suffered facial injuries, broken bones and spinal injuries, according to sources at the time.

In October 2018, a jury found Aston guilty of six charges of negligently causing serious injury.

According to ABC News, he has now been sentenced to five years and three months in jail, with a minimum non-parole period of two and a half years.

During sentencing, Judge Bill Stuart said three of the 14 passengers on board saw the bridge ahead.

“How it is that you did not, is astonishing,” Judge Stuart told Aston.

“Why you were so grossly inattentive is unknown to me.

“Driving an 11-tonne bus with 14 passengers and failing to observe any of the warnings…is itself in my view a serious example of this offending.”

During a plea hearing in court last week, Gold Bus founder Donald McKenzie took responsibility for not warning Aston of driving conditions in the area.

He apologised on behalf of the bus company to the injured passengers and to Aston and his family who “have been put through the mill”.

However Judge Stuart ultimately found Aston responsible, saying employers can not be blamed for the “obvious failings of employees”.

Following the 2016 incident, VicRoads installed a gantry to prevent future accidents at the Montague Street bridge.

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