Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Engineer charged over Alpine bus crash named

Bus engineer James Coakley has been named as the person charged over a bus crash in the South Island that left passengers injured. Photo/ Supplied
Bus engineer James Coakley has been named as the person charged over a bus crash in the South Island that left passengers injured. Photo/ Supplied

A bus engineer charged over his alleged work on a tourist bus involved in a horror crash in the Southern Alps on New Year's Eve can be named.

James Henry Coakley, 68, was allegedly involved in the maintenance of the bus carrying a tour party of 31 Chinese tourists when it lost control and collided with a car travelling up Otira Gorge in Arthur's Pass on December 31, last year.

It overturned and slid into roadside barriers, which stopped it from plunging into a ravine.
Coakley, of Ohoka, 25kms north of Christchurch, was charged with injuring by unlawful act.

Today at Christchurch District Court, Coakley was granted a registrar's remand without having to appear before a judge. He will reappear on June 20.

Thirteen bus passengers suffered serious injuries requiring hospitalisation and surgery, including fractures and internal injuries.

The car passengers - a visiting Swiss family of three - also sustained moderate to serious injuries, police said.

All of those injured in the crash have since returned home.

Tasman Police District crime manager Detective Inspector Paul Borrell said it was "miraculous", and police were thankful, that no lives were lost as result of the incident.

- NZ Herald

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