Tributes after truck crash tragedy

Published: Wednesday 11th February 2015 by The News Editor

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A school is expected to reopen and libraries will host books of condolences today as a community continues to grieve for a “gorgeous little girl” and three men killed when a tipper truck careered out of control down a hill.

Mitzi Steady was struck by the 32-tonne truck as she walked down Lansdown Lane in Weston, Bath, with her grandmother at 4pm yesterday.

The four year old from Bath suffered fatal injuries and died at the scene, while her grandmother was airlifted to hospital in a “critical” condition.

The Scania truck, carrying sand and gravel, collided with other cars on the road before overturning on to a Volvo at the bottom of the hill.

Three men in the vehicle – taxi driver Stephen Vaughan, 34, electricity firm director Phil Allen, 52, and a 59-year-old man – were killed instantly.

Headteacher Anne Bull said Weston All Saints Primary School, close to the crash site, was expected to reopen today after it was closed out of respect.

“We will be supporting any children that need bereavement counselling, as some pupils may have been affected because this accident took place so near to the school,” Mrs Bull said.

Earlier, the devastation at the scene was clear, with a sign reading “School” crumpled in a pile of rubble and metal by a brick wall which had been pulled down.

Books of condolences will also be opened at libraries in Weston and Bath today as a more permanent way for people to show their respects, while floral tributes will also be moved to a memorial tree by Weston Free Church.

Witnesses have told police how the tipper truck driver appeared to be trying to avert an accident and repeatedly sounded his horn.

Avon and Somerset Police has “briefly” spoken to the driver, who sustained minor injuries, but will interview him fully at a later stage.

Speaking in Lansdown Lane, which was reopened this afternoon, Chief Inspector Norman Pascal said officers were investigating “meticulously”.

“This is a tragic incident in which three men and a young girl have lost their lives and we’re carrying out a full and meticulous investigation,” he said.

“The driver appears to have lost some sort of control. He knocked over a young girl, Mitzi, and critically injured her grandmother.

“He has been spoken to briefly and he is still in hospital.”

Mitzi’s family, which is being supported by police liaison officers, released a photograph of the girl and a short statement saying: “Mitzi Rosanna Steady, aged four, loved and missed by us all.”

Staff at Snapdragons Nursery in Weston also released a statement paying tribute to their “beloved” Mitzi.

“Our hearts go out to her family at this difficult time,” the nursery said. ” We will always miss her smile and her warmth.”

Mother-of-two Katie D’Arcy, who lives locally, said she would often see Mitzi walking to Weston All Saints Primary School with her grandparents.

“She was a gorgeous little girl – it’s just unbelievable and it’s just so shocking when it is somebody you know,” she said.

Tributes were al so paid to Mr Vaughan, from Penyrheol, near Gorseinon, Swansea, who ran luxury taxi firm EliteXecutive Travel and married fiancee Sian in Turkey last year.

“Sian is totally and utterly devastated,” a friend, who did not wish to be named, said. “They had not even been married for a year.

“Stevie was a dedicated husband and a successful businessman too. It was admirable how he built his business up and made a real go of it too.

“He was always polite and punctual and great conversation too.”

Father-of-two Mr Allen, who lived in Loughor, Swansea, with wife Caroline, was a resources and external affairs director for Cardiff-based Western Power Distribution.

Relatives comforting Mrs Allen, 53, said she was too distressed to speak to the media following his death.

The fourth victim, who has not yet been named, was a 59-year-old man from Cwmbran.

Yesterday, around 400 residents attended an hour-long prayer service for the victims at All Saints Church Weston, led by Rector Patrick Whitworth.

Children, parents and grandparents lit candles and used colourful pens to write messages of condolence on white fabric.

Residents who wept outside the church described Lansdown Lane as “nasty” and said a safety campaign had been going on.

The crash in Bath is reminiscent of a horrific accident in 1993 in Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, when six people died after a tipper truck carrying 20 tonnes of gravel lost control on a steep hill, colliding with a van and then a shop.

Published: Wednesday 11th February 2015 by The News Editor

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