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Chain reaction: Three dead, one arrested in night of carnage on Bruce Highway

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A motorist has ploughed into a queue of stationary traffic, killing two other drivers, just hours after another fatal crash on the same stretch of highway in North Queensland.

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The first crash left a 27-year-old man dead when his car and a truck had a head-on collision on the Bruce Highway near Mutarnee, north of Townsville.

The truck driver, 60, was seriously injured in the crash about 6.30pm on Tuesday.

The second collision happened just before midnight, 2km 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, a 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 man who was driving the Landcruiser. He suffered minor injuries.

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,” Dametto said.

“There were some brilliant people on the side of the road last night.”

Officers from the Forensic Crash Unit are continuing investigations of both crashes and the highway was not expected to open until Wednesday afternoon.

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