Two Robinvale people have lost their lives after two vehicles collided head-on in the Sturt Highway shortly before dawn on Sunday morning.
A utility and a sedan collided while travelling on the Sturt Highway near the intersection of Tarpaulin Road, 35km west of Euston, about 6.45am Sunday.
The female utility driver, and sole occupant, died at the scene.
The woman, Maria Ienco, is a regular stall holder at the Mildura Farmers Markets with her stall Maria’s Kitchen and was travelling towards Mildura on her way to the Merbein Markets where she is a regular stall holder.
Market co-ordinatior Amanda Smith said on Facebook that “It is with our deepest regret to advise that one of our favorite stallholders "Maria's Kitchen" was involved in this horrific car crash and lost her life.”
“Our thoughts are with her family and friends, we are thinking of you all loosing such a wonderful soul.”
“Deepest sympathies are extended on behalf of the Market Committee, Stallholders and volunteers.”
Her family has a strong connection to the Robinvale- Euston Football Netball Club, which also posted a tribute to the Ienco family at the loss of a family member.
After the impact the utility remained on the Sturt highway with its front section badly damaged.
The other vehicle involved in the head-on – a sedan - was located off the left hand side of the highway on the road shoulder.
It’s believed that one of the vehicles had swerved to miss a kangaroo.
An 18 year old male who was a rear seat passenger in the sedan died in the crash.
Killed was Tupou Latu Taulanga, who was a local basketballer and member of the Robinvale-Euston Football Netball Club.
The Facebook page of the Robinvale Basketball Association carried a brief tribute on Sunday night which read “our hearts go out to the family of a beautiful young soul gone to soon”.
“Tupou Latu Taulanga we will miss your smiling face around the courts and town”
Ambulance Victoria said a man in his 30’s suffered leg injuries and was flown by fixed-wing aircraft from Mildura to Melbourne before being admitted to Royal Melbourne Hospital in a serious condition.
Fire Brigade and Rescue units from Gol Gol, Buronga and Wentworth attended the accident scene, along with police and an Ambulance Unit from Wentworth and Mildura.
A second man, also travelling in the rear of the sedan, along with the sedan driver both sustained critical injuries.
The Sturt Highway was closed to traffic in both directions a short time after the accident with traffic being stopped at Euston and at Gol Gol.
A one hour diversion through Robinvale, along the Murray Valley Highway to Hattah and then along the Calder Highway to Mildura was listed as the re-directed route.
The Sturt Highway between Euston and Buronga re-opened to traffic late Sunday afternoon.
Crime scene investigators from NSW Police are conducting a investigation into the crash.
NSW Traffic and Highway Patrol Command’s Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy said driving on rural roads presented a different set of challenges to road users.
“The causes of several weekend collisions in NSW are still being investigated but these tragedies should serve as a reminder of the need for road users to anticipate unexpected hazards such as animals and slowing down if you are not used to driving on dirt or gravel roads,” Assistant Commissioner Corboy said.
“Highway Patrol Police have been conducting a number of operations in rural areas this year.
“We want to make sure that wherever you are in this state, you get home safely.”