Torquay's main coast road was battered by large waves last night as gales sent spray flying well over the tops of the street lights.
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Pictures: Strong winds and waves as high as 27ft batter UK
Paul Netherton, Assistant Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, described the incident where a two-year-old child and a man were killed in a head on collision as "extremely traumatic".
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A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said the mother and father remained in a "critical life threatening condition" in hospital and police were working to contact their next of kin.
The incident was witnessed by a police officer who was on the scene.
All four occupants of the cars were taken by air and land ambulances to Torbay Hospital in Torquay and Derriford Hospital in Plymouth.
The driver of the Vauxhall Vectra was arrested before being taken to hospital, where he subsequently died.
A two-year-old and a man were killed in a head-on collision which left the youngster's parents fighting for life in Torquay, Devon and Cornwall Police said tonight.
The high speed crash happened on Hamelin Way in Torquay, Devon, at around 2.45pm today.
The incident took place between Gallows Gate and Kerswell Gardens and involved a black Vauxhall Vectra, driven by a Polish national, and a family car.