21 Apr 2017

Driver charged over fatal Christmas bus crash

11:37 am on 21 April 2017

The driver of a bus that crashed on Christmas Eve, killing three people, has been charged with careless driving.

Sione Taumalolo, 11, died along with Talita Fifita, 33 in the bus crash near Gisborne on Christmas Eve.

Sione Taumalolo, 11, died along with Talita Fifita, 33 in the bus crash near Gisborne on Christmas Eve. Photo: Supplied

Police said the 65-year-old man was arrested in Auckland on Wednesday night.

He was charged with three counts of careless driving causing death and 27 counts of careless driving causing injury.

He will appear in Manukau District Court next week.

Leotisia Malakai, 55, died on New Year's Day, a week after she was injured in a bus crash near Gisborne.

Leotisia Malakai, 55, died from her injuries a week after the crash. Photo: Supplied / Hepi Havea

There were 53 people were on the bus when it plunged down a steep bank south of Gisborne last year.

The charter bus, operated by Ritchies, was carrying a school brass band that was on a four-week fundraising tour from Tonga.

The crash killed 11-year-old Sione Taumololo, and a 33-year-old woman, Talita Fifita.

Leotisia Malakai, 55, died later from her injuries at Waikato Hospital.

Tairawhiti Area Commander Sam Aberahama said the crash was an absolute tragedy for everyone involved, and he hoped that holding somebody accountable will help those affected.