Highway horror: Four people killed in four hours
Tragedy unfolded yesterday north and south of Townsville when four people were killed in separate crashes within a matter of hours.
Three people, including an elderly couple, died at the scene of a horrific four-vehicle collision near Mount Surround, south of Townsville about 1.30pm.
And a Deeragun man, aged 52, perished in a three vehicle crash earlier in the day at Yabulu just after 9am.
Emergency workers were visibly shaken as they worked to remove the deceased with care and dignity from the crash sites.
Deeragun man dies in smash at Yabulu
A 52-year-old Deeragun man has been identified as the person killed in a confronting crash north of Townsville on Sunday.
The three-car smash happened along the Bruce Highway near Yabulu, north of Townsville, about 9am.
It is understood two off-duty paramedics were among the first on the scene and gave first aid until critical care paramedics arrived. They declared the 52-year-old man dead upon arrival. His car had flipped on to its roof.
Townsville district duty officer Senior Sergeant Matt Lyons, who was on the scene, said early investigations suggested the male driver sideswiped a car, forcing him into oncoming traffic where he then collided head-on with a car driven by woman in her 60s.
"Today is a tragic day for a wide range of people in the community, a family has lost a brother, son, uncle," Sergeant Lyons said.
"The emergency crews have done a great job of preserving the dignity of the person deceased in the vehicle and preventing other people from seeing.
"Hopefully we can have some closure for the people here today."
The woman in her 60s was taken to Townsville University Hospital where she was treated for lower limb injuries and shock. She was in a stable condition in hospital last night.
The male driver of the third vehicle, who had his door sideswiped, was uninjured and remained at the crash site to assist forensic crash investigators with key information to piece together the details of the crash.
Traffic was directed to turn around and the road remained closed in both directions until about 1pm.
Sergeant Lyons made no apologies for the lengthy delays caused by the crash and said it was critical forensic crash investigators were given enough time to do their job.
"As you can appreciate lots of people require answers (including) the family of the deceased. We're going to take our time to meticulously go through it and marry up information so that afterwards we can prepare a report to the coroner."
Elderly couple perish together
An elderly Mundingburra couple who drew their last breath just minutes apart after succumbing to injuries in a triple-fatality crash were placed side-by-side on their final journey in the ultimate show of care.
Their tragic deaths came after a male driver of another car involved in the crash was found dead inside his car south of Townsville about 12.40pm.
First responders were confronted with distressing scenes as they worked through unrecognisable cars to save and free crash victims.
Early investigations suggest the 56-year-old deceased man was travelling southbound when he veered onto the wrong side of the road, colliding head-on into the elderly couple travelling in a four-wheel drive.
The impact of the crash was so great that the engine of the deceased man's car was forced into the cabin.
Another two cars travelling northbound crashed into the rear of the elderly couple's car as a result, leaving a female with neck injuries and another couple treated on scene for shock.
Townsville District Duty Officer Senior Sergeant Matt Lyons said the tragic incident would be "life changing" for the families of all involved.
He said the "grim" scene hammered home the fragility of life and care needed when driving.
"We are yet to determine the identity of that male, we are processing a very, very grim scene and the vehicle involved is not in a very good condition," he said.
"It's quite traumatic for everyone involved to be at this situation, however we will continue to do our job professionally to ensure the family of the deceased has answers for this today because they're entitled to answers.
"Certainly our thoughts are with the family of the deceased and all the other persons involved."
The elderly couple were initially cut from their four-wheel drive with critical hip and pelvic injuries, and internal bleeding.
A rescue chopper was on standby to fly them to Townsville University Hospital but the couple died on the scene within minutes of each other.
It's understood the man, aged 72, was alert and talking to first responders before taking a sudden turn, and he tragically died soon after.
Paramedics then turned their attention to the man's 70-year-old wife to render CPR to no avail.
Emergency workers were left visibly shaken after the ordeal and in a final show of the gentle care provided, the couple was placed side-by-side and transported together.
"It's very, very tragic as you can imagine," Sergeant Lyons said. "A lot of emergency personnel have worked hard to try and save the lives of the elderly couple before they passed. "The families here - once they find out the news - are going to affected (because) these are life changing events here today.
"It's a pretty sombre mood among the emergency service workers. We held out hope and tried to render lifesaving treatment to both parties, however its been to no avail."
Sergeant Lyons said the highway was expected to be closed for a "significant" time, with traffic diversions in place.
"This particular incident will be blocked for several hours. We're still treating the injured, we're still to remove the deceased man from the vehicle but that will all occur after forensic crash have conducted investigations," he said.
"We've just got to do our job so people can get the answers to the questions that are asked and the coroner expects that all the emergency services do their job professionally and get the job done."
Police are appealing for anyone with dashcam footage of the accident to come forward.
Car stuck on rail line
An impatient driver was met by law enforcement after trying to use a rail corridor to bypass road closures caused by yesterday's road fatality at Yabulu.
The failed attempt left the driver stuck on rail tracks, requiring help to be removed and blocking the path of a QRail train.
Other vehicles were seen leaving the highway attempting to bypass the crash via rural, unmarked and ungazetted roads.
Townsville District Duty Officer Senior Sergeant Matt Lyons urged motorists to be patient and show consideration.
"Additional police officers have been sent to the area and are stopping drivers from going on the rail corridor to bypass the crash," he said.
"Police are attempting to get the car off the line which is taking up resources.
"QRail has indicated action will be taken against the driver so our officers will be pursuing that."
Plea for caution
There are renewed calls for driver caution following 4 deaths on Townsville roads in two separate crashes, within hours of each other.
The Townsville district road toll has more than doubled with 17 lives lost compared to nine this time last year.
It takes the total northern region, including Cairns death toll to 34 which is two more than last year.
Townsville District Duty Officer Senior Sergeant Matt Lyons urged people to slow down, drive to road conditions and take care on our roads.
"It certainly brings home the reality of having a license to drive on the road,"
"It's a privilege to have a license and certainly not something to be granted easily.
"People driving vehicles just need to be careful because the untended occurrence of trying to get somewhere quickly could be the end of a life."
Originally published as Highway horror: Four people killed in four hours