Daily Mail

Why WAS it so long before police found scene of crash?

Survivors of car smash horror lay overnight by friends’ bodies

- By Claire Duffin

POLICE were facing questions last night about how five young people lay undiscover­ed for two days after going missing during a night out.

The bodies of Eve Smith, 21, Darcy Ross, 21 and Rafel Jeanne, 24, were pulled from the wreckage of a car yesterday morning – 46 hours after they were last seen.

Sophie Russon, 20, and Shane Loughlin, 32, were found alive, having spent two days critically injured next to their dead friends.

As they fought for their lives in hospital last night, Ms Russon’s mother told how she had spent two days driving around South Wales franticall­y searching for her daughter after, she claimed, police told her to ‘stop calling’.

Anna Certowicz, 41, said she drove past the site where the white VW Tiguan was found three times in her desperate hunt, passing within 20 yards of the SUV that was hidden by trees.

She said police did not take her seriously when she contacted them numerous times from Saturday lunchtime to say the trainee bank manager had not come home, forcing her to mount her own search.

The car was discovered just after midnight yesterday at the side of the busy A48 in Cardiff, by a woman who was out searching for the group with her dog. The accident scene is close to houses, a pub and a garden centre but the car could not been seen from the road due to the camber and trees.

Ms Certowicz, 41, said she and other parents then had to wait for two hours at the scene,

‘The police didn’t want to know’

during which time they could hear firemen cutting into the car to reach the victims.

The mother of three said: ‘It’s a parent’s worst nightmare’, adding: ‘It’s too awful to imagine what she went through trapped in the car in the dark until it got light and then dark again over two days.

‘She was conscious some of the time – she called out but no one was close enough to hear her. She must have thought she was going to die. I drove past her three times – she was 20 yards away, lying there scared next to her friends who were dead.’

The three women, who had known each other since infants’ school, had started their night at The Muffler Sports and Social Club in Newport, where Ms Smith left her car. It is thought they met Mr Loughlin and Mr Jeanne for the first time during the evening.

Friends believe they then travelled to Trecco Bay caravan park, in Porthcawl, 36 miles away, where they said Mr Loughlin had a caravan, before returning to Cardiff, where they dropped off a sixth member of the group. It is thought they were returning to Newport, where the women lived, when they crashed.

It is unclear precisely what time the accident occurred but friends say the group stopped all communicat­ions and social media updates about 2am on Saturday. The last picture from the group, uploaded to Snapchat, showed Mr Jeanne with his arm draped around Ms Ross.

Ms Certowicz said she made her first call to Gwent Police at noon on Saturday. She made

ten calls that day but police kept telling her not to worry, and that Ms Russon was probably out partying, she said.

It was not until more than a day later, just after 11pm on Sunday, that Gwent Police finally put out their own public appeal.

Ms Certowicz said: ‘The police didn’t want to know – it’s disgracefu­l. Sophie was lying there for all that time.’

Tamzin Samuels, 20, who joined the search for her friends, said: ‘The police could have done a lot more – put up the helicopter earlier. The search party found the girls before the police. That speaks volumes, really.’

Ms Certowicz added: ‘I feel terrible for the families of Eve and Darcy – they were all good friends and had known each other since they were small. I feel guilty because Sophie survived but at the same time I don’t know if she will ever get over what’s happened.’

Mr Loughlin, a father who runs a bouncy castle hire company in Cardiff, is also on the critical list at the University Hospital of Wales in the Welsh capital. Mr Jeanne is believed to be the son of former Queens Park Rangers footballer Leon Jeanne, 42.

Gwent Police has been referred to the Independen­t Office of Police Conduct. The force refused to comment.

Assistant Chief Constable Jason Davies, of South Wales Police, said: ‘Our thoughts are with the families of all those affected by this tragic incident. Specialist officers are carrying out an investigat­ion to piece together what has happened.’

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