Three young men on their way home from a pig hunting trip have been killed and police believe fatigue was the contributor. Todd Sligar, Mitchell Holloway and Ethan Hertslet were driving south along the Mitchell Highway north-west of Dubbo, when their ute veered off the road on Saturday morning.
The black 4WD ute wrapped around a tree near Trangie, killing the three men – aged 24, 21 and 17-years-old – at the scene.
A green P-plate sign was visible as emergency services from around the rural region descended on the crash scene just before 8am.
Remarkably, the three dogs that accompanied the boys on their pig hunting trip survived the crash and were treated by a local vet.
The absence of skid marks on the road has led police to believe the driver may have fallen asleep.
“[F]atigue is the most likely outcome there,” NSW Police Highway Patrol Inspector Phil Brooks said. The deaths have reverberated through the community in Orange, where all three men hail from.
“My life is a darker place today…so many things left unsaid…so many paths left to smooth out,” Tosh Pintos wrote on Facebook.
“A few more beverages to be had…im breaking inside but have to stay strong.”
His partner Tanika Pintos – believed to be Mr Sligar’s sister – wrote: “I just want him back just to let him know I love him just one more time.”
Narromine Shire mayor Bill McAnally said the stretch of highway had seen quite a few accidents in recent years and drivers had be very much aware of fatigue.
I believe these were all young blokes on P-plates,” he said.
“There would be some devastated parents this morning having lost three young men.”
Mr Sligor’s aunt, Jo-ann Yates, said he was a “beautiful boy” who loved to hunt.
“He was very caring, we’re all suffering,” she said.
Deaths at Mittagong and Hunter
The triple fatality comes hours after a 17-year-old girl was killed in a crash in the southern highlands.
The teenager, understood to be Chloe Soper, was behind the wheel of a car that left the Old Hume Highway at Mittagong and hit a tree.
Her 15-year-old passenger was airlifted to Liverpool Hospital in a serious but stable condition.
Police say the speedometer on the teen’s car was stopped at 180 km/h when it crashed and the engine block was found 30 metres away from the vehicle. In the Hunter region, a woman was killed after a car hit her while she crossed the road in the early hours of Saturday. Police say the 44-year-old woman was crossing First Avenue at Cardiff when she was hit by a Mazda 3 sedan.
The 39-year-old driver pulled over and assisted the woman before paramedics arrived.
She was taken to John Hunter Hospital after midnight in a critical condition but died hours later. The latest car crashes take the long weekend road toll to five.
A 54-year-old man is also fighting for his life in the Gold Coast hospital after a crash with a B-double truck on the Pacific Highway at Grafton in north-eastern NSW. The crash on Saturday afternoon left the man with a range of injuries, and he was airlifted to hospital in a critical condition.