A mother and her two young children were killed after their car was involved in a crash with an M&S lorry, as they travelled behind her husband’s vehicle.
The woman was driving her children towards Barnstaple in Devon when their car crashed with a lorry, in a bang watched by the children’s stepfather in his rear view mirror.
The family, from the Milton Keynes area, were believed to have been travelling to a holiday when the collision happened on the A361 near Aller Cross.
Emergency services were called to the scene at 8.25am after some police officers described as one of the most shocking collisions they had seen.
Inspector Richard McLellan from Devon and Cornwall Police said the father was in a different car on the same road.
He said: ‘It would seem that a car travelling towards Barnstaple, for unknown reasons at the moment, has crossed the centre white line and hit an oncoming truck.
‘Unfortunately the family were travelling in two separate cars but travelling together along this road, so dad was there at the scene as well.’
It comes after a similar incident on the same road on Sunday at 11.30am saw another mother and her two young children in a crash which left them all seriously hurt.
North Devon Conservative MP Peter Heaton-Jones declared the A361, which is known locally as the North Devon link road, as ‘unsafe’ after the two crashes.
He told BBC Devon that motorists on the road are generally ‘taking too many risks because there are short overtaking lanes that suddenly merge at not much notice’.
Mr Heaton-Jones, 53, said that he was working together with the area’s local councils to ‘get the money we need to get the improvements to this link road’.
He tweeted: ‘Very sad to hear three people – a mother and two children – died in #NDevon Link Road crash. Thoughts with families and emergency services.’
Mr McLellan said: ‘It seems at the moment we had two cars travelling towards Barnstaple – a family on holiday in the area – when for an unknown reason the vehicle had crossed the centre lines and collided with an HGV coming the other way.’
Three ambulances, five quick response vehicles and the air ambulance attended the scene of this morning’s crash.
A police spokesman said: ‘A road closure has been put on at West Buckland junction and the Lankey junction on the A361 whilst officers conduct scene investigations.
‘The closure is likely to be on all day and motorists are being advised to avoid the area.’
The carriageway was also closed in both directions to allow the air ambulance to land. Police are appealing for witnesses to the incident to come forward.
North Devon county councillor Brian Greenslade said he was distressed by the two tragic accidents on the A361 on Sunday and yesterday.
He said: ‘It is deeply upsetting that two tragic accidents have taken place so close to each other within the space of two days.
‘Ours thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends caught up in the accidents. We think particularly about the mother and two children who have been killed on Monday.
‘It’s a matter of historic record that I have been a critic of the design of the link road ever since the promised dual carriageway link road was downgraded to single carriageway in the early 1980’s.
‘It is deceptive especially for drivers who do not use the road regularly. That continual lobbying for improvements, at the West Buckland junction in particular, are moving forward will be no solace to the those caught up in these crashes.
‘We must all fight as hard as we can to get the improvements which have just been consulted upon in place just as quickly as possible.’
And an M&S spokesman told: ‘Our thoughts and sympathies go out to the family and friends of the individuals involved.’
Mr McLellan said Sunday’s separate collision was a ‘terrible coincidence’ when a mother and her two children were in a car which crashed into a car towing a trailer.
He added: ‘There is nothing to link these incidents. It had nothing to do with road or weather conditions.
‘But very similar circumstances, a woman travelling towards Banstaple on the A361 with two young children in the car.
‘For an unknown reason the car has crossed the while lines and collided with a car and trailer.’
Police said they notified just after 11.30am on Sunday after a two vehicle collision on the A361 near to West Buckland.
A Vauxhall Vectra car travelling towards Barnstaple was involved in a collision with a Ford Ranger 4×4 towing a trailer travelling in the opposite direction.
The Vauxhall driver, a woman in her 30s, along with a seven-year-old child and a nine-year-old child all suffered serious injuries and are still in hospital.
The driver of the Ford suffered minor injuries and was released from hospital. At the time of the collision it was dry but it had been raining and the road surface was wet.
Police from across the force area attended the scene and a full forensic scene and vehicle examination was carried out.