A motorist has ploughed into a queue of stationary traffic, killing two other drivers, hours after another fatal crash on the same stretch of highway in Queensland.
The first crash left a 27-year-old man dead when his car and a truck collided head-on on the Bruce Highway near Mutarnee, north of Townsville.
The truck driver, 60, was seriously injured in the crash, which happened at about 6.30pm on Tuesday.
The second collision occurred just before midnight, two kilometres north of the earlier incident.
Police say traffic was stopped on the highway as a result of the earlier fatality when a motorist in a Toyota Landcruiser ploughed into a column of stationary cars.
The Landcruiser hit a Mazda 3, killing a 26-year-old woman who was at the wheel.
The impact pushed the Mazda into a Mitsubishi Lancer, which in turn hit another four-wheel-drive.
The driver of the Lancer, an Atherton man aged 23, died at the scene despite the frantic efforts of witnesses and paramedics to save him.
Three people who were in the four-wheel drive suffered minor injuries.
Police arrested the 31-year-old Mundingburra who was driving the Landcruiser. He suffered minor injuries.
Acting Superintendent Chris Lawson said police will allege the 31-year-old was in possession of drugs at the time of the crash. Blood and drug test results are not back yet.
He said an internal police investigation would determine if there were adequate traffic control measures where the traffic was stopped.
The Bruce Highway was closed for 16 hours, reopening at about 10am on Wednesday.
State MP Nick Dametto was in one of the cars queued on the highway and witnessed the second crash.
“It was something that no one wants to see on the side of the road, and something I’m trying to process,” he told the ABC.
He described how a doctor on the scene tried to help the injured while paramedics were en route.
“We helped work on these people for a couple of hours,” Mr Dametto said.
“There were some brilliant people on the side of the road last night.”