It took eight hours for a family to find their mother in a Melbourne hospital, where she was fighting for her life, after the Avoca bus crash.
Ethel Glenister's four children contacted hospitals and Ambulance Victoria to try and find their 87-year-old mother following the crash on the Sunraysia Highway, near Avoca, on October 14, 2017.
Mrs Glenister, of Beaufort, was among 27 passengers on the Ballarat Coachlines bus when it ran off the road on a right-hand bend and rolled at 3.04pm.
The bus, driven by Sebastopol's Lionel Calf, was returning to Ballarat after a two-day lawn bowls tournament in Mildura.
Mrs Glenister and Creswick woman Carmel Mitchell, 71, died while six other women were seriously injured in the crash.
Bradley Glenister said through a statement read at a plea hearing in Ballarat on Wednesday, he eventually identified his mother by a photo of her hand, which showed her rings.
Watch him speak outside court here.
"I was sure it was her and we were taken to ICU," Mr Glenister said. "The hardest thing was to identify Mum in hospital."
The family made the tough decision to turn off Mrs Glenister's life support a week after the collision. Mr Glenister said his mother, a highly regarded community member, fought so hard while in hospital.
She never got the opportunity to say goodbye to everyone.Bradley Glenister
Speaking outside court alongside his family, Mr Glenister said it took an eight-hour time frame to find his much-loved mother and that was very hard.
He showed his support for the other passengers and their families who were not in court on Wednesday.
"With the families that were on that bus, the ladies and what they've gone through with their horrific injuries that some of them got, we just want to say that we're thinking of you and hope you recover, not only physically but mentally as well because it is tragic," Mr Glenister said.
He said he would start to lobby for CCTV cameras to be made mandatory in all coach and heavy vehicles, for the women who lost their lives so "no one else has to go through this length of a trial that they can have a scenario of what actually did happen".
Mr Glenister's brother, Grant Glenister, and sister, Vicki Topp, also had their statements read to the County Court. They both described how difficult it was to cope with their mother's death.
Grant Glenister had moved from Beaufort because it triggered too many memories of his mother, while Mrs Topp said it was not easy to know she would not see her mother again.
"I still agonise about making that decision (to turn off the life support) and if it was right or wrong," Mrs Topp said.
Four surviving passengers' statements were read to the court, with each woman describing the horror they experienced on the day of the crash and the mental and physical damage caused.
Margaret Cosgrove said she experienced sleepless nights, waking up during the night and hearing screaming and she could not get over the image of passengers hanging from their seatbelts.
Shirley Trengrove said she still carried great sorrow and experienced flashbacks of Calf covered in blood while he used her mobile phone and horrific images of her team members.
On Monday, a 14-person jury was discharged after Calf, 70, pleaded guilty halfway through a trial. He pleaded guilty to two counts of dangerous driving causing death and six counts of dangerous driving causing serious injury.
Crown prosecutor Andrew Moore said Calf's offending fell in the lowest category of seriousness of dangerous driving because alcohol, drugs, fatigue and speed were absent, but this was not to say the consequences were "absolutely horrific".
He said the evidence given during the trial had been considered by the Office of Public Prosecutions' top prosecutors.
There had been no issues with Calf's driving before the crash and he was familiar with the road, having completed the trip a number of times in previous years. There was no evidence Calf had swerved to avoid a kangaroo.
Mr Moore said the prosecution agreed with the collision reconstructionist's conclusion Calf had time to steer the bus back onto the road after it hit the gravel and avoid the fatal crash.
"He drove in a manner which displayed significant inattention to the task at hand. He was driving the coach, while not full had many passengers on board, close to the speed limit. His level of responsibility was heightened," Mr Moore said.
In these circumstances he failed that duty by inattention.Andrew Moore
Defence barrister Tom Danos submitted his client, who had a heavy rigid licence with more than 10 years' experience of driving a bus, could not have rectified the coach once it hit the gravel.
He said a VicRoads report tendered to the court stated a section of the road in question had a narrow carriageway and narrow shoulder and the "margin of error is not great".
Mr Danos said the section of road, which has since had tactiles installed on the bitumen edge, was a candidate for improvements.
Ballarat Coachlines trustee company director Brendan Cosgriff said Calf was regarded very high within the company and groups would often request him to be their driver.
"We had no reason to question Lionel, that's for sure. He was a very hard worker," Mr Cosgriff said.
He said Calf had continued to work for the company after the crash, filling in for school runs and a lot more charter jobs, and he stopped driving when the trial started.
Mr Danos said Calf had contributed to the community during his 40-year lawn bowls career, he had no prior offences and he was an exemplary driver. A number of character references were tendered to the court.
The prosecution submitted a community correction order was within the sentencing range and Calf had been assessed suitable.
Judge Wendy Wilmoth will sentence Calf on Friday. The maximum penalty for dangerous driving causing death is 10 years' imprisonment and five years' for dangerous driving causing serious injury.
The mandatory loss of driver's licence is not less than 18 months.
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