IT is a stretch of lonely country road just over two kilometres long which has claimed at least eight lives and changed the lives of dozens more forever.
From motorcyclists to teenage girls to young fathers to best mates, Rutleys Road at Mannering Park has become the death road for a cross-section of the community.
The flower memorial at the site of where best mates Bayden Garrett, 23, and Shane Laffy, 21, were killed on Saturday morning is the most western point of the 2400-metre stretch which sees at least another five similar memorials standing sentinel over the narrow and winding road.
Two kilometres down the road is the shrine where teenager Annaliese Reynolds was killed just two months ago.
Annaliese’s oldest sister, Chanel, went through Lake Munmorah High School in the same year as Shane Laffy and had left the family’s Mannering Park home before dawn on Saturday with her mother, Katrina, on their way to Orange.
‘‘We saw the road blocked and my heart just sank,’’ Mrs Reynolds said yesterday.
Mrs Reynolds has called for a public campaign to improve the quality of Rutleys Road, claiming the continued use of it from mine trucks and increased traffic had caused it to fall into a state of disrepair.
‘‘I am very passionate about our community,’’ she said.
‘‘We have a beautiful community here and after having another two young kids die, it will be on everyone’s minds.
‘‘As a community we need to gather in strength and get an answer to this problem – fix up this road. Losing your child changes your life forever – it is a life sentence and you forever look at life differently,’’ she said.
Swansea MP Garry Edwards has called for an urgent report from the Department of Roads and Maritime Services on whether there are changes afoot for the road.
‘‘I want to find out what is going on with Rutleys Road,’’ Mr Edwards said.
‘‘I may also recommend to the minister that we look at reducing the speed limit.
‘‘Though I do drive up and down that road a lot and there are trucks and cars that already do a lot more than 80km/h.’’