3 April 2024

Two Riverina men among state's Easter road fatalities as police call for team effort to curb carnage

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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police car and inset of highway patrol boss

Commander of Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, Assistant Commissioner Brett McFadden, pleaded with road users before the long weekend to make it a safe one. Photos: NSW Police.

Two of the eight road fatalities in the state during the Easter long weekend were in the Riverina.

The men died following separate single-vehicle crashes in Booligal and South Gundagai.

Police said emergency services were called to Boxyards Road, Booligal, about 75 km north of Hay, after reports of an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) crash just after 8 pm on Good Friday (29 March).

Officers from Murrumbidgee Police District were told an ATV was being ridden westbound when the rider reportedly swerved to avoid a collision with a kangaroo and flipped.

Witnesses and police performed CPR on the 54-year-old man until the arrival of NSW Ambulance paramedics; however, he died at the scene.

Emergency services responded to reports a car had struck a tree along Edwardstown Road, South Gundagai, about 2:15 pm on Sunday.

The 69-year-old driver and sole occupant of the vehicle died at the scene.

Officers from the Murrumbidgee and Riverina police districts established crime scenes for the incidents and have begun investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash.

Reports will be prepared for the coroner.

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NSW Police conducted Operation Easter targeting the major factors contributing to road trauma: excessive speed, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, fatigue, non-wearing of seatbelts and helmets, and mobile phone use. The operation ran from 12:01 am on Thursday to 11:59 pm on Monday.

Police saw a concerning number of dangerous driving incidents, including excessive speed, high-range drink-driving, and reckless driving, during the long weekend, with eight people losing their lives across the state.

During Operation Easter, police issued 5709 speed infringements, conducted 232,092 breath tests, with 295 people charged with drink-driving, and conducted 17,256 roadside drug tests, which resulted in 863 positive roadside drug detections. Police also issued 400 infringement notices for seatbelts and 400 notices for the use of mobile phones.

Commander of Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, Assistant Commissioner Brett McFadden, said the fatalities over the weekend could have been avoided.

“These [speeding, using mobile phones, drink and drug driving] are all the contributing factors to the death and carnage that takes place on our roads every day,” Assistant Commissioner McFadden said.

“The community needs to work with us to ensure that we are doing everything possible to prevent this from happening in the first place.

“I need families, community groups and social groups to engage and work with each other to take the edge off the behaviours that we’re seeing on the road. It is simply unacceptable.”

high-ranking police officer

Commander of Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, Assistant Commissioner Brett McFadden, emphasised that many of the Easter road fatalities could have been avoided.

Assistant Commissioner McFadden said it was important to minimise road fatalities as accidents undervalued human life.

“These are crashes and collisions. Drivers are responsible and accountable for the death and serious injury they cause,” he said.

“This long weekend represented another example where it was most people are trying to do their best, [but] there’s an increasing cohort amongst their driving fraternity that seeks to cause harm to others by their reckless, irresponsible and dangerous behaviours.

“We’re doing everything we can to prevent this … it is time we as a collective worked together to end this carnage on our roads.”

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Assistant Commissioner McFadden said police across the state had worked tirelessly over the weekend.

“They were engaged in a whole series of sliding-doors moments where they are able to stop and take offending drivers off the road before they cause harm to somebody else,” he said.

“I’m very thankful for what I’ve seen reported to me over the weekend and very thankful that the road toll wasn’t that high.”

Anyone with information or dashcam footage about the incidents in Hay and South Gundagai is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report information via NSW Police social media pages.

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