M5 crash victims named as police investigate fireworks connection
Somerset detectives try to establish whether smoke from rugby club fireworks display was to blame
Police identified the remainder of the seven people killed on the M5 in one of Britain's worst motorway disasters, as detectives continued to try to establish whether a nearby fireworks display was to blame for the incident.
Two lorry drivers – one of them a former soldier – an elderly couple, a father and daughter driving home after a funeral and a stalwart of a historical re-enactment society were killed in the M5 pile-up.
Jessica Brice, the 16-year-old daughter of lorry driver Terry, said on Twitter: "Rest in peace daddy. Wish you would hold me one last time. Keep telling myself I'll be ok but nothing will ever be the same, it just won't."
Avon and Somerset police said its main line of inquiry continued to be a fireworks event staged at Taunton rugby club beside the M5 on Friday night. Officers believe smoke from the fireworks may have blown across the motorway.
The Met Office confirmed that during the evening light winds blew in all directions, leaving open the possibility that smoke could have drifted onto the carriageways and lingered. However, some experts were casting doubt on the idea that smoke from a relatively modest display could have caused the thick blanket that witnesses reported.
Of the 51 people injured in the 37-vehicle pile-up, 12 remained in hospital, all of them in stable condition.
Floral tributes were left on a motorway bridge near the scene of the crash, in Bridgwater town centre and at the homes of those killed. Father-of-five Terry Brice, 55, of Bristol, was one of two lorry drivers working for the owners of the Cornish pasty brand Ginsters who died. His mother, Jean, said he never left the house without asking her if she needed any money. "Those were his last words to me," she said.
Brice's colleague, Kye Thomas, 38, from Gunnislake, Cornwall, also died. He was a father of four who served in the army with the King's Royal Hussars before becoming a trucker. He had been finalising plans to open a tae kwon do school with a colleague.
Tony and Pamela Adams, 73, and 70, had just started their journey back home to Newport in south Wales after visiting family in Taunton when they were caught in the pile-up. A note left on the motorway bridge by their daughter Tonia read: "Mum and Dad, my heart is full of pain and sorrow at the sudden and brutal way you were ripped from my life. I love you both so much."
Michael Barton, 67 and his daughter Maggie, 23, had been driving back to Berkshire after attending a funeral in Cornwall when they were involved in the incident. Mr Barton's other daughter, Emma, 19, and her boyfriend, Chris Burbull, 23, were among those treated in hospital.
Andy Sampson, the stepfather of Burbull, said: "Emma and Chris have a long road ahead of them to recovery, physically and emotionally. For Chris, and all those other drivers involved in the crash, the endless media suggestions about driver error and blame [are] very painful.
"Chris is having flashbacks. He can't remember what happened, he saw brake lights and it was thick with fog, he hit the brakes and that is all he can remember. The worst thing is, whatever the outcome, Emma has to be told. Emma's got to be explained all this. This is going to be the hardest thing in her life."
The seventh fatality was father-of-two Malcolm Beacham, from Woolavington, Somerset, the event co-ordinator of a historical re-enactment group. He worked for a Calor Gas supplier. A tribute in Bridgwater town centre read: "RIP Uncle Malcolm. You will remain in our hearts forever."
Inquests on the seven people will open on Thursday in Taunton.
By then police hope to have spoken to survivors, and officials from Taunton rugby club. The club has said its display ended 10 minutes before the time of the pile-up. Lee Waddon, director of rugby at the club, said: "We are helping the police in any way we can to ascertain the cause of this tragedy."
Tom Smith, secretary of the British Pyrotechnists Association, said he doubted that a relatively small fireworks display could have created the bank of smoke that police have described.
Monday, 7 November 2011
M5 crash victims named as police investigate fireworks connection | UK news | The Guardian