First fatality of holiday driving season

POLICE are investigating the circumstances of the crash that killed an 82-year-old woman at Brandy Hill, near Seaham, yesterday.

Emergency services were called to Clarence Town Road about 1.30pm following reports a car had struck a power pole.

The woman died at the scene, making her the state’s first holiday fatality this Christmas.

A report will be prepared for the coroner and anyone with information is urged to contact Raymond Terrace police on 1800333000.

The tragic accident marks the beginning of the busy period on the Hunter’s roads, with traffic expected to ramp up with last-minute shoppers and travellers in the coming days.

Bottlenecks at Kempsey and Macksville flared early yesterday, with police patrols beginning in earnest as part of Operation Safe Arrival.

Double demerit points will be enforced for speeding, restraint and helmet offences until January 2.

Among the first charged in the lead-up to Christmas was a Tighes Hill woman, 40, who police allege blew six times the legal limit in a breath test.

Police said the woman was stopped on Sunnyside Street at Mayfield about 7pm Thursday where she returned a positive breath test.

She was arrested and taken to Waratah police station, where a breath analysis recorded a 0.303 reading.

The woman’s licence was cancelled and she will face court on high-range drink-driving charges in January.

Traffic and Highway Patrol Command Inspector Phil Brooks said the woman’s alleged actions put every road user at risk.

“This woman allegedly told the officer she’d consumed two bottles of red wine and three schooners of beer during celebrations for a friend’s birthday,” Inspector Brooks said.

“To get behind the wheel after drinking any alcohol – let alone the large amount of wine and beer this woman had allegedly consumed – is extremely dangerous.’’

HOLIDAY TRAFFIC: Drivers are urged to allow plenty of time to get to their destination, and to drive with care. Picture JONATHAN CARROLL