OLD BRIDGE — Three people were killed and two women were seriously injured Tuesday afternoon when an SUV crossed the center median of Route 9 and slammed into an oncoming car.

The collision killed the 45-year-old Howell man behind the wheel of the Ford Escape, who was driving south before he crossed into northbound traffic, as well as the 37-year-old Freehold woman driving a Honda Accord. A 62-year-old male rear-seat passenger in the Accord also was killed.

All three were pronounced dead at the scene, township police said Tuesday evening.

Two women riding in the Accord, ages 62 and 68, were taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital with serious injuries.

Police do not know why the SUV crossed into oncoming traffic.

Police did not release the names of the victims.

The accident occurred about 12:23 p.m. at the highway's intersection with County Road 516 and shut down Route 9 for some time Tuesday afternoon. The accident left a disturbing scene of a mangled wreck.