Six victims of a horrific head-on collision “didn’t stand a chance” as their car was thrown into “a big ball of fire”, according to a witness.
A four-wheel drive Mitsubishi Pajero carrying six people – including a child – crashed into a road train carrying cars and trailers of mangoes on the Stuart Highway near Pine Creek, a small town in the Katherine region of the Northern Territory, just after 4 p.m. Friday.
The Mitsubishi was engulfed in flames, Territory Expeditions tour driver Daniel Hall spotted the plume of smoke several kilometers down the highway, prompting him to rush to the scene.
Police have confirmed that six people, including a young child, died after a 4×4 crashed into a road train on Friday (photo, accident site).
Mr Hall said NT News that a few minutes after the accident, other drivers stopped to coordinate traffic and provide first aid to the driver of the Shaw road train.
But no one could save those inside the Mitsubishi.
“Anyone who was in that car had no chance of surviving or being rescued in any way,” Mr Hall said.
“The whole car was a big ball of fire.
“Those people, they didn’t have a chance.”
Two people involved in the case managed to escape and were treated for minor injuries at the Royal Darwin Hospital.
Mr Hall said one of the survivors had “cuts and bruises everywhere” and a look of “utter devastation” in his eyes.
“As his road train burned…he had this look on his face that he had narrowly escaped with his life,” he said.
Detectives remained at the scene on Saturday, with NT Police saying it may be more than a week before those killed can be identified due to the ferocity of the fire.
“Police, firefighters and (paramedics) were confronted with a terrible scene and initially tried to save those who could be saved,” Superintendent Daniel Shean said. ABC.
A Mitsubishi Pajero 4×4 with six people on board crashed into the road train before both vehicles burst into flames on the Stuart Highway near Pine Creek, a small town in the Katherine region of the Northern Territory (photo, police at the scene of the accident)
Superintendent Shean confirmed that one of the victims of the accident was a very young child.
“The driver and passenger of the truck were evacuated to hospital, there was an infant who was found dead from the (four-wheel drive), and a number of people in the (four-wheel drive) had also died” , he said.
He stressed that the fire which broke out following the collision had caused “irreparable damage” to the vehicle “and the people inside”.
Detectives are working to identify the victims but their identities may not be confirmed for at least a week, police said.
The driver and passenger of the road train are in Royal Darwin Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Their truck was towing three trailers, two of which were filled with mangoes.
“I have witnessed a number of serious accidents during my career and this one is among the most serious in terms of severity of the accident, where we have a vehicle that went head-on into a truck,” Superintendent Shean added.
The Major Accident Investigation Unit will investigate whether a range of factors, including speed and attention, contributed to the incident.
NT Police remained at the scene on Friday and put in place diversions for light vehicles along the Stuart Highway.
This has caused significant traffic delays, with motorists advised to avoid the area.
Detective Senior Sergeant Brendan Lindner on Friday urged anyone traveling in the area between 2.30pm and 4.45pm with dashcam footage to contact police.
“This incident has and will have an impact on a large number of people in the community and all efforts are underway to identify and trace the deceased and inform their next of kin,” he said.
Anyone with information on the identity and whereabouts of the occupants of the four-wheel drive vehicle is also asked to contact police.