THREE men died yesterday, and several others were seriously injured, in separate crashes on the Hunter’s northern fringes.
Motorists were advised in the afternoon to avoid both major traffic routes heading north from Newcastle, the Pacific Highway and New England Highway, because of the accidents.
A 72-year-old man died when his Nissan sedan crossed to the wrong side of the road and collided head-on with a semi-trailer on the Pacific Highway at Bulahdelah about 3pm.
This caused the semi-trailer to be involved in a relatively minor collision with a Holden Commodore in the northbound lanes.
The driver of the Nissan, from the ACT, was trapped in the car but was released about 45 minutes after the crash.
The Westpac rescue helicopter was called to the site, but the injured man was deemed too badly injured to travel by helicopter.
The driver of the Nissan was pronounced dead on arrival at John Hunter Hospital.
The male driver of the truck and the 53-year-old male driver of the Holden were not injured.
The highway was closed in both directions for nearly three hours while police investigated.
About 10.30am yesterday a 20-year-old man was killed and a male passenger injured when a ute ploughed into a tree at Tinonee Road, near Tinonee, south of Taree.
The driver was dead when emergency services arrived.
The passenger was taken to Manning Base Hospital at Taree for non-life-threatening injuries.
A man in his 50s was killed in a crash that closed the New England Highway north of Tenterfield for most of yesterday afternoon.
Eight others were injured in the three-vehicle crash, which occurred about 12.45pm.
Earlier, about 9.30am, a motorcyclist broke his leg and arm after crashing at Bucketty, south of Wollombi.