Man found friends dead in car 15 minutes as police took two days
A man who found the car involved in a fatal accident in Cardiff claimed police should have started searching sooner.
Eve Smith, 21, Darcy Ross, 21, and Rafel Jeanne, 24, died in an accident in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Sophie Russon, 20, and Shane Loughlin, 32, survived but are in critical condition, police said.
All five were in a Volkswagen Tiguan which veered off the A48 in Cardiff and crashed into trees in the St Mellons area.
Matthew Pace, 45, and his son Lewis, 26, had joined a search party organized by friends concerned about the group’s whereabouts.
After just 15 minutes of searching, the couple found the car just before officers arrived at the scene.
The father and son had spotted tire tracks leading off the road into a wooded area.
Matthew said police arrived “about a minute” later.
The wreck of the VW Tiguan was found in a grove of trees and was hidden from view of the busy road, residential buildings and the nearby garden center.
Matthew told Sky News: “I stopped, I was in the field, in the woods and then her [a police officer] pulled behind me.
“She asked why I was there and I said, ‘Here are all the tire tracks,’ and then her colleague came out and looked at the tire tracks and they had the chopper search that bush and that’s where it was confirmed.’
Lewis, who was close friends with Rafel Jeanne, added: “I’m devastated. I can’t manage, I can’t eat. It’s just devastating.’
Officials believe the car was involved in a collision and veered off the A48(M) some time later, but further investigation using CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) requests is needed to establish an accurate time.
The group of friends in the vehicle had been to a social club in Maesglas, Newport, on Friday night and then are believed to have traveled 40 miles to the Trecco Bay area of Porthcawl.
Police have now confirmed they were last seen in Pentwyn, Cardiff, around 2am on Saturday.
After failing to return home, their families reported them missing. The first call was received by police at 7.34pm on Saturday, while further reports were received up to 5.37pm on Sunday.
Hundreds of people took part in searches but Gwent Police did not publicly call for help until 11pm on Sunday.
In a joint statement, Gwent and South Wales Police said a police helicopter was called to search an area of Cardiff at 11.50pm on Sunday, which the armed forces said resulted in the vehicle being found at 00.15am on Monday.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has launched an inquiry into the police response.
Tamzin Samuels, 20, a friend of the young women who helped with the search, told the PA news agency: ‘I think the police could have done a lot more to get the helicopters down earlier.
“They didn’t put up the appeal until an hour before the girls were found. We found her before the police found her – we called the police.
“The search party found the girls before the police found the girls.
“I think that really speaks volumes, they had all this gear, and we had cars when we checked.
“They were really popular girls, the life of the party, and it was really out of character for them to do what they were doing, which is why we knew something was wrong.”
Hundreds gathered in Cardiff tonight for a vigil for the friends who lost their lives in the crash.
A crowd of at least a few hundred people arrived at the roundabout of the A48, which was closed to traffic.
Flowers and candles were laid near the scene to commemorate the Newport victims.
People also released heart-shaped balloon bouquets in their memories.
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https://metro.co.uk/2023/03/07/man-found-friends-dead-in-car-after-15-minutes-when-police-took-two-days-18402522/ Man found friends dead in car 15 minutes as police took two days