Tragic details of highway deaths emerge
"You knock on the door at 2am in the morning and trust me, the look on their face - they know."
Despite serving in the police force for decades, Coffs-Clarence Commander Detective Superintendent Steve Clarke said delivering the news to loved ones never gets easier.
"They tell you to go away, they don't want to believe it."
Speaking to the media at an RBT stop near Urunga today, Supt Clarke was exasperated as he reflected on a horrific year on our local roads.
The death toll has now soared to 16, with two fatalities taking place over the long weekend.
On Sunday, emergency services worked to save the life of a woman who was trapped by her legs inside a crashed car on the Pacific Hwy north of Harwood.
The 68-year-old Queensland woman had driven her sedan onto the wrong side of the road, crashing head-on with another vehicle and setting off a "chain reaction" with several other vehicles.
Supt Clarke said the injuries inflicted on the woman in the four-car crash were horrific.
She had her legs amputated at the scene, as it was the only way to free her.
It was to no avail and she died about half an hour later.
Just two days prior, a 32-year-old woman died in crash on the Pacific Hwy at Glenugie in a case that Supt Clarke said was not dissimilar.
She was driving a Mazda sedan when her vehicle crossed onto the wrong side of the road.
The exact causes of both crashes are currently under investigation.
Police are conducting drug and alcohol testing, and are even examining mobile phones to see if they were being used at the time of the accidents.
There have been seven more fatalities in the Coffs-Clarence district compared to the same time last year, with factors including fatigue, alcohol, drugs and mobile phones all playing a role.
Supt Clarke said police will now be cracking down on dangerous driving.
"The message is clear. We need to public to step up, take a bit of care and make sure this Christmas is a special one."
He revealed eight of the fatalities this year have occurred on back roads.
"These are areas where drivers are quite familiar with the roads. We know you know these roads like the back of your hand, but please take care. It happens too easily.
"I can't explain how tragic it is when the cops turn up and have to deliver a death message.
"The repercussions go on for the rest of these peoples lives. Accidents don't just affect you and I - they have ripple effects."