'It was horrible seeing her suffering'
A court has heard it took eight hours for family members to locate where their 87-year-old mother was taken, following a tragic bus crash in regional Victoria in 2017.
Twenty-seven passengers were on-board the Ballarat Coachlines bus returning from a Mildura lawn bowls tournament in October 2017 when driver Lionel Calf failed to negotiate a bend on the Sunraysia Highway and rolled down an embankment, killing two women and seriously injuring six others.
Avid lawn bowlers; Beaufort woman Ethel Glenister, 87 and Creswick woman Carmel Mitchell, 71 were killed in the crash.
More than a dozen victim impact statements from the families of the two "loving grandmothers" were read out in court today.
Ms Glenister's son Grant detailed the trauma of calling each hospital in Victoria to try and locate his mother Ethel.
"I was angry and felt alone and worried my mother might die. I wanted to find her as no one knew where she was," wrote Ms Glenister's son.
"It was horrible to see her suffering as she tried to fight for her life."
Ballarat bus driver Lionel Calf pleaded guilty halfway through his trial to eight charges of dangerous driving on Monday.
In his plea hearing today the court heard that excessive speed, drugs and alcohol were not a factor and that there was no evidence to suggest that Mr Calf was fatigued at the time of the crash.
The accused's employer Brendan Cosgriff from Ballarat Coachlines took to the stand during the plea hearing and told the court that Mr Calf's driving was considered "exemplary".
The court heard the bus driver had continued to work for the company, for school runs and charter services.
"We would often get comments for requests to have Lionel back as a driver, I can't recall any complaints about his driving or demeanour - I can't recall ever actually," Mr Cosgriff said.
Mr Calf's two charges of dangerous driving causing death carry a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment, whilst his six charges of dangerous driving causing serious injury carrying a maximum penalty of five years.
However, Crown Prosecutor Andrew Moore told the court that the whole body of evidence including that from the trial "has been considered by persons near the very top within the office of public prosecutions."
"This tragic absolutely tragic and horrendous crash, falls into the lowest category of seriousness," Mr Moore said.
"Whilst this offending does fall into the lowest category of seriousness, it is not to say the consequences of his driving are not serious, the consequences were absolutely horrific."
Outside of court another of Ms Glenister's sons Brian gave his well wishes to the other passengers and their families who were absent in court.
"With the families that were on that bus, the ladies and what they've gone 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."
He alongside other family members also called for CCTV cameras to be made mandatory in all coach and heavy vehicles.
"So that no one else has to go through this length of a trial that they can have a scenario of what actually did happen."
Lionel Calf will be sentenced by Judge Wendy Wilmoth on Friday.