2 die in separate crashes

TWO people were killed in road crashes within two hours and less than 20 kilometres apart at Yarrawonga and Tungamah yesterday.

In the first crash, at 4.30am, a Tungamah woman. 47, died when her car left the road, climbed an embankment and was thrown 10 metres into a paddock, bursting into flames on impact.

Then, a 39-year-old father of four from Tally- garoopna was killed when his truck loaded with grain slammed into a tree.

Sgt Michael Connors, of the Wangaratta highway patrol said the effect on families, friends and a community could not be measured.

“These two people this morning left their homes thinking they’re here for Christmas and they’re not — the ripple effect through the community is vast,” he said.

“Just imagine the families of both deceased what sort of Christmas they’ll have and ever have from now on.”

Sgt Connors said the Tungamah woman was driving south on the Yarrawonga-Benalla Road, when, about seven kilometres from Yarrawonga, she crossed onto the other side of the road.

She over-corrected, came back onto the south-bound side, went up an embankment, clipped a tree and the Kia Rio was flung into a paddock.

Sgt Connors thinks the impact ruptured the fuel tank and the car caught fire, the blaze leaving only the shell of the car.

About 120 hectares of crop was burnt before 70 to 90 firefighters controlled it.

A passing driver called emergency services, thinking it was only a car fire and not a crash.

When the CFA attended, they had no idea the woman was inside.

“We didn’t know well into the fire fight that there was a person in the car,” Tungamah CFA group officer John Parnell said.

“It’s really was pretty confronting.”

Sgt Connors was on his way to the Yarrawonga crash about 6.30am when a call came through about a second accident on the Tungamah Main Road, near Chinaman’s Lane, about a kilometre west of Tungamah.

Sgt Connors found a truck torn open with grain spilled for metres into a paddock.

He said as the truck was driven around a bend it tipped, spilling onto its side and slamming into a big gum tree.

The impact tore the cab apart.

Most of the cab stood upright a few metres away but the top of the cab was still attached to the trailer and crunched against the tree trunk.

Sgt Connors said the driver was on his way to Rutherglen after picking up his first grain of the season from Youanmite.

Sgt Connors thinks he was killed instantly.

What led up to these people losing their lives is under investigation but Sgt Connors said some tell-tale signs were left behind.

He said the way the truck had tipped, the almost hairpin turn and lack of skid marks on the road could indicate speed as a factor.

Speed and fatigue could be causes of the Yarrawonga crash but Sgt Connors is also not ruling out the possibility of the woman crossing to the other side of the road to avoid another car.

Mr Parnell, the CFA officer who attended both crashes said his worst fear was arriving at a crash and knowing the victim.

“I have a feeling I do,” he said as police searched through the truck cab to look for clues.