They’re teenage sweethearts who grew up in Warrandyte, the former gold mining town that’s now a northeastern Melbourne suburb known for its wineries, scenic reserves and sporting culture.
Mitchell Gaffney and Maddy Edsell moved to the mining town of Singleton in rural NSW to start a new life together – but the fairytale wedding to usher in the next phase of their lives will now be forever tarnished.
The Hunter Valley bus crash that followed Mr Gaffney and Mrs Edsell’s wedding on Sunday afternoon took the lives of ten of the couple’s wedding guests and injured a further 21 people in a tragedy that has shaken the nation.
The bride and groom – who are believed not to have been on the bus – remained at their home in Singleton on Monday, comforted by about 15 of their relatives and friends.
It’s a terrible turn of events for the popular, sporty couple who moved from Victoria to NSW six years ago.
Back in Victoria, Mitchell Gaffney was something of a sporting phenomenon in Warrandyte, a suburb in northeastern Melbourne.
He played Aussie Rules football – five years for the Warrandyte Bloods – and both junior and senior cricket for Warrandyte, excelling at both.
Maddy played netball and in 2015 was one of the few Warrandyte High School students to win a community scholarship to help fund her freshman year of college.
The talented student – who is one of several popular sisters – began dating Mitchell around that time.
Mitchell’s sporting prowess had made him a well-known figure in town; record-breaking performances for Warrandyte Cricket Club’s Second XI had him promoted to first place at a young age, and he was also named in the footy club’s team of the decade in 2021.
Teenage sweethearts and sports-crazy couple Mitchell Gaffney and Madeleine Edsell left Victoria to build their new life in the NSW Hunter Valley, with their fairytale wedding (above) later turning into tragedy for some guests
The bus came to a stop, rolled over near the town of Greta, trapping passengers and killing ten people and injuring 21, one of whom is critical
Mitchell and Maddy (back row) participated in a half marathon with Alex Tigani (front center) who would attend their wedding and was injured in the bus crash, although not seriously
Before getting married, he was promoted to Coal Quality and Logistics Coordinator at Yancoal.
After graduating from Warrandyte High School in 2011, Mitchell studied at the University of Melbourne, completing a master’s degree in chemical engineering in 2016.
That degree landed him a job with Yancoal Australia’s Hunter Valley operations as a process engineer and the pair moved together to Singleton, also a former mining village.
Both he and Maddy joined the Singleton Roosters Aussie Rules club as players and acted as volunteers in the monthly Singleton Parkrun community event.
While planning their wedding, the active couple competed in a half marathon alongside their boyfriend, Alex Tigani, who had agreed to officiate their upcoming nuptials at Wandin Valley Estate in the Hunter Valley.
Friends and family had arrived in the area in the days leading up to the wedding, with Mr Gaffney’s two close friends, Dylan Burns and former Warrandyte Cricket Club teammate Brandon Stafford, believed to be among the groomsmen.
The wedding party made its way to the winery, which is a 30-minute drive from Mrs. Edsell’s home and Mr. Gaffney’s Singleton.
MC Alex Tigani hosts the reception as Maddy and Mitchell cut their wedding cake at the Wandin winery just hours before the tragic crash would take the lives of ten of their guests
Mitch and Maddy (center) surrounded by family and friends late Sunday afternoon before 35 people on a Ling Coach suffered a horror crash that left 10 dead and 21 injured
NSW police confirmed on Monday afternoon that the bodies of deceased victims of the crash were still in the vehicle and would not be removed until it was straightened out
The bride arrived at the ceremony in a restored 1952 Beetle convertible that her father had worked on to get it ready in time for the wedding.
On Sunday, on a perfect, sunny afternoon, the couple stood on the pontoon overlooking the dam and a celebrant said their vows in front of about 100 guests.
The crowd gathered for a group photo in the gardens before retiring for their reception, with Alex Tigani addressing the crowd, giving speeches and the newlyweds cutting their cake.
Hours later, some of the guests left by car, while 35 boarded a chartered Ling Buslines coach, including guests flown in from Melbourne for the ceremony.
Just as the seemingly perfect day was drawing to a close, disaster struck.
About 7 miles (12 km) from the location, the bus rolled onto Wine Country Drive near the town of Greta, killing ten passengers and injuring 21 people.
The 58-year-old driver was arrested and taken into custody at Cessnock police station but is said to have returned a negative test for alcohol.
Warrandyte Cricket Club president Royce Jaksic confirmed on Monday that up to nine current players and their partners were on the bus at the time of the crash.
“I think one has a broken jaw, a few have broken collarbones,” he told the Announce sun.
“One lady may have a broken back, but all our people are numbered,” he said, adding that he did not believe club members or close friends were among the dead.
NSW Police confirmed on Monday afternoon that the bodies of deceased victims were still on the bus at the crash site.
On Monday afternoon, a representative of the couple said they did not want to comment.