A man is dead and another is fighting for his life in the wake of a fiery road crash at West Dapto that has police urging young drivers to slow down.
Crash investigators say speed was undoubtedly a factor in a crash that claimed the life of 18-year-old Jayke Robinson in the early hours of Friday morning.
The former Corrimal High School student was a passenger in a car that was incinerated on Cleveland Road about 2.10am.
The eastbound car came unstuck on a bend about 1.2kms west of Dapto High School.
It went through a barbed wire fence and into a tree, exploding on impact.
The tragedy has shocked and devastated Mr Robinson’s family and wide network of friends.
“If this isn't a reminder to drive safe I don't know what is,” wrote one, Ricky Morris, in a post to social media.
“We all lost a brother today and the pain will never stop so please stay smart on the roads.”
A resident of Cleveland Road dragged the 24-year-old driver out of the badly crumpled wreck before the car went completely up in flames.
“[The resident has] done a great job and they’ve probably saved that fella’s life,” Lake Illawarra Police Inspector Paul Allman said.
“[The passenger] was trapped and unable to be saved.”
The driver was taken to Wollongong Hospital, where he remained in a critical condition late Friday afternoon.
He is likely to face serious charges, according to police.
Crash investigators worked through the night to establish the path taken by the car in the moments leading to the tragedy.
Later Friday morning, the roadside remained littered with debris thrown clear of the incinerated car – a broken rear view mirror, a radio, shattered glass and a dislodged red P-plate.
Paul Skimmings, who lives a short distance from the crash site, said he regularly saw drivers using the quiet, semi-rural roadway “like a drag strip”.
The crash came two days after a police road compliance operation targeting mobile phone offences and speeding in school zones in the Lake Illawarra command.
With holidays approaching, police are urging drivers not to contribute to the state’s road toll, which at 357 already stands well higher than the 322 toll of 2015.
“Just slow down, that’s the message,” Insp Allman said.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated Jayke Robinson was 20 years old. This is not the case; he was 18. The Mercury apologises for any confusion caused.