They included professional drivers and a young family, lone drivers and others travelling in pairs.
Fate had them meet at roadworks on the Newell Highway, about 20 kilometres north of Dubbo in the Central West on Tuesday afternoon where they patiently waited for the go-ahead to pass the road crews replacing the highway's surface.
But just after 12.30pm, tragedy struck.
Crash experts are investigating why a prime mover, carrying a load of concrete barriers, careered into a line of five cars and a B-double as they sat
Two people - a man and a woman both aged in their 20s and believed to be travelling together - were killed at the scene.
Three others, including the driver of the prime mover and a teenager, pinned under the truck, spent up to three hours trapped in the wreckage.
A further seven people, including a two-year-old girl, were injured and rushed to
And a road worker needed treatment for shock after collapsing when the crash occurred in front of him.
Ambulance Service of NSW Superintendent Kathy Golledge described the scene as "absolute carnage".
Another emergency services worker said the wreckage "looked like something out of Beirut".
The carnage was so severe that investigators were struggling to pinpoint which vehicles were parked where when the collision occurred.
It is understood one car was parked at the front of the row, followed by the B-double and the four other vehicles.
But exactly who was travelling in what car and where they were situated may take days to determine.
What is known is the extraordinary survival of the 18-year-old man who spent hours pinned in his car, which had been crushed by the prime mover and remained under the truck.
"Somehow he has ended up between a back wheel and the engine bay [of his car]," Ambulance Superintendent Chris Wilson said.
"On impact, his car has concertinaed and folded back out and he has found himself in that little pocket. Very lucky."
He remained conscious as rescuers spent nearly three hours cutting him free before he was flown by helicopter to Westmead Hospital with multiple injuries.
The driver of the prime mover, who suffered a badly broken leg and other injuries, also spent more than three hours trapped before being released.
Another woman, 51, was also trapped in her vehicle suffering multiple injuries.
A young family in another car were hospitalised after a 20-year-old man suffered facial cuts and back pain, a 24-year-old woman had a closed head injury and a two-year-old girl needed treatment to a cut to her leg.
In another car, a 28-year-old suffered pelvic injuries and the driver of the B-double was taken to
NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey said it's believed one of the trucks "came on to traffic" at a go-stop site.
"It is an absolute horror. We had a worker collapse with shock. This is a terrible, terrible crash," Ms Pavey told the ABC.
Orana local area commander Superintendent Peter McKenna said the crash was "another tragedy on our roads".
The crash is the third fatal incident involving trucks on NSW roads in the past 24 hours. On Monday, a man was killed in a fiery collision involving three trucks on the M1 Pacific Motorway near Cooranbong, which sparked a bushfire. Another two truck drivers died later that afternoon in a head-on collision near Grafton.
There had already been 19 people killed on NSW roads this year before Tuesday, which was seven more than for the first 15 days of 2017.