Tributes pour in - and flowers laid at scene -after couple from Ely, and two friends from Mildenhall, die in two car collision
PUBLISHED: 11:37 20 July 2015 | UPDATED: 16:28 20 July 2015
A community has been left in shock by the deaths of four people as a result of a two-car crash in which a couple from Prickwillow and two men from Mildenhall died.
Around 100 friends and family of Matthew Grant, 24, and Chris Merchant, 28, from Mildenhall paid tribute to the “cheeky lads” who died on Friday, walking down to the scene of the crash to lay flowers.
The Ely area victims were William Dyal, 77, who was known as John and his wife Helen, 75; they died after their Hyundai I30 was in collision with a BMW M3 on the B1102 Freckenham Road just before 8.15pm on Friday.
Mr and Mrs Dyal’s family have released the following tribute: “It is with greatest sadness that we have lost our dearest parents, grandparents and siblings today in this tragic accident. Our hearts also go out to the families of the other casualties.
“John, a retired art teacher, and Helen, a fashion and graphic designer, are much loved and will be hugely missed by all their family and friends.”
A tribute from Mr Grant’s family said: “He was a much loved son, brother, uncle and boyfriend. Matthew led a very outgoing and sociable life surrounded by friends and family.
“His passion in life was motor cross and music. He was well known and loved by all; he’s left a massive gap in our hearts and lives that can never be filled.
“We as a family are deeply saddened by our loss but will continue to keep his memory alive with our lovely times together. Our thoughts go out to all other families involved in this tragic accident.”
Two services were held at All Saint’s Church, in Worlington yesterday in memory of the four.
Suffolk police closed the road while one of the families visited the scene in private to pay respect.
The police then closed the road again to protect the huge number of friends and family walking down to the scene from the Walnut Tree pub at lunchtime yesterday.
An emotional message from Jack Akehurst, posted on Facebook, remembered Mr Merchant.
He said: “After every blink I want to wake up and this all be a dream. I can’t even begin to think about all the good times we had together, because you were involved in pretty much all my good times.
“People say, think of the memories you have, and I will forever. The hardest part is now that’s all we have.
“From when we first met at school when I came here, you were the first to welcome me. I’ll always remember that. And even though that was over 15 years ago, we never really grew up did we, sleep well Blerchatov. You will always be one of the boys.”
Among the huge number of tributes left at the scene of the crash was a touching letter from the partner of Mr Grant, who signed as Sally Wetter.
She wrote: “You were one in a million babe; you will be missed by so many its unreal.
“You always said if you were to die doing something you love you’ll be happy, so I hope you are having a scream up there.
“Just waiting at home for you to turn up last night was so annoying, now I wouldn’t care what time you would have been.
“I love you Matthew with all my heart.”
The two men were believed to be on their way to meet friends at the Maids Head pub, in Mildenhall.
Landlady Louise Malone said the group were incredibly close.
“Blerch was one of the lads, I have known him for many years,” she said. “They are bunch of friends that have always stuck together from football when they were younger to going out and having fun down the pub.
“Chris was a good lad, never any trouble always up for having fun. I feel so sorry for their families.”
Jodie Pooley works in the Maids Head, she said: “They were both cheeky lads, always had a smile on their faces.
“Granty would always be there for someone who needed him, he was such a caring lad.
“He loved his car, he had a new one every year but the BMW meant everything to him.
“It is hard to think they are gone.”
As people across the community try to come to terms with the incident, the Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore has vowed to bring forward plans for a new roads’ policing unit in a bid to make Suffolk’s roads safer.
The BMW M3 and a Hyundai i30 suffered a head on collision at around 8.15pm on Friday. The BMW, with the two friends from Mildenhall inside, travelled through two gardens before bursting into flames.
Kathy Covill lives on the B1102/Freckenham Road and arrived at home just after the BMW had gone through the hedge in her garden.
She said: “It is the most horrible thing that could happen. Four people have lost their lives and my thoughts are with their families and friends.”
Arriving on the scene before emergency services, she said the cars were badly damaged.
“They were unrecognisable. The Hyundai had travelled 40 yards back from where it was hit, in the opposite direction.”
The BMW was travelling towards Worlington, along Freckenham Road.
Mrs Covill added: “It is horrific. The couple in the red Hyundai had only been visiting a bring and buy sale at the church (in Worlington). They start the day with the best of intentions and something as horrible as this happens.”
The BMW came to rest in the garden of a doctor, who was the first on the scene.
Mrs Covill said: “He tried so hard to help them. There was nothing he could do though; it has shocked everyone who lives here.”
The doctor, who did not wish to be named, said his thoughts were with the family and friends of those who died. A gathering of nearly 200 people who knew the two young victims took place at the Bell Hotel on Saturday.
County councillor James Waters said the tragedy had hit the community hard.
“It is a very tight-knit community and everyone knows each other, it has been a real shock,” he said.
“My thoughts are with the families of those four people. I have never heard of an accident with such a horrific loss.”
Witnesses described the BMW as “somersaulting” after the impact.
One neighbour said: “There was a horrendous noise and when we went outside the car was in the garden on fire. We tried to douse the flames, but there was nothing we could do.”
A man, who also asked not to be named, said: “There were two cars involved.
One of the cars left the road and ended up in the garden.
“The car rolled over, it flipped over at least once and landed in the garden.
“The emergency services were here until 2am.”
Another said: “There was a red car with an elderly couple in it and a BMW which was coming the other way.
“The BMW somersaulted and landed in the garden. We went out with a hosepipe to try to put the flames out.”
Anyone with information about the incident, including seeing either of the vehicles before the crash, are urged to call the Suffolk Serious Collision Investigation team on 101 quoting CAD 415 of July 17.