It has been a horror start to the week on Hunter roads, with three deaths in the space of 48 hours.
The three incidents took the region’s road toll for 2016 to 37 – four less than the number of deaths on Hunter roads in the 2015 calendar year.
Central Hunter – the police command based at Maitland and Cessnock – and Port Stephens have each been the locations of 10 road deaths so far this year. There have been eight fatalities in the Lake Macquarie local area command, five in Hunter Valley and four in Newcastle City.
Hunter Highway Patrol cluster supervisor Senior Sergeant Tony Grace said it was alarming that the road toll was approaching the 2015 total with a quarter of this year remaining.
“We treat all fatalities as a bad run – the goal is zero,” he said.
“But it hasn’t just been a bad few days, it’s been a bad year.”
The body of a 47-year-old man was found inside a Ford Falcon sedan that was pulled out of Wallis Creek on Monday afternoon.
Passers-by on the New England Highway reported the mostly submerged vehicle in the creek, near the border of Maitland and East Maitland, about 9.30am.
Emergency crews spent most of the day preparing the scene for a tow truck to pull the vehicle from the water.
Police believe the white car was travelling west on the highway when it left the road, crashed through a fence and plummeted into the creek.
A report will be prepared for the Coroner.
It came barely a day after another tragedy on the region’s roads that claimed the life of a young man at Nelsons Plains.
Residents on Seaham Road reported the crash after they heard “a hell of a noise” at about 2.20am on Sunday.
A Toyota ute had travelled off Seaham Road and struck a power pole near the intersection of Noongah Road.
The driver died at the scene.
The horror run continued on Monday night, when a motorcycle rider died after his bike and a truck collided on the Hunter Expressway at Buchanan, near the John Renshaw Drive intersection, at about 11pm.