Victim’s friend found horror crash car after 15 minutes. So why did it take police two days?
A FATHER and son who took only 15 minutes to find a car involved in a crash that claimed three lives have questioned why police weren’t looking for the passengers sooner.
Lewis Pace, 26, went searching for his friend Rafel Jeanne on Sunday night after hearing he had gone missing during a night out in South Wales two days before.
He said he and his father, Matthew, 45, had been looking for only 15 minutes when they noticed tyre marks leading to a wooded area at a busy roundabout, and found the wrecked VW Tiguan.
Mr Jeanne, 24, had been killed alongside passengers Darcy Ross and Eve Smith, both 21. Shane Loughlin, 32, and Sophie Russon, 20, were found alive, having spent two days and nights critically injured next to their dead friends.
When the five were found at the side of the busy A48, on the outskirts of Cardiff, shortly after midnight on Monday, it was 46 hours after they had last been seen.
Ms Russon’s frantic mother said she was fobbed off by police when she began calling on Saturday afternoon to voice her worries about the trainee bank manager.
Matthew Pace said police arrived ‘about a minute’ after he and Lewis had pulled up on the side of
‘Heard someone shouting help’
the road, but said they should have been there sooner.
‘The minute they were reported missing, surely they should have been looking, searching,’ he told Sky News.
‘Especially when witnesses saw five people in the car and then there’s no contact off any of them, I thought they’d have been looking all day Saturday.’
His son added: ‘When I saw the skid marks, obviously I was praying that it was nothing to do with it and it turns out it was, but the police were searching literally next to where we found it... so I don’t know how it wasn’t found quicker.
‘As soon as they were reported missing, [police] should have been out there looking for them.’
Another searcher at the crash scene, who asked not to be named, told the Daily Mail: ‘We thought we could hear someone shouting “help” coming from the dense bushes where the car ended up.’
She added: ‘The police were telling us all to wait for the other emergency services to cut everyone out of the car and give them proper medical treatment.
‘ It didn’t sit well with me, just stood there helpless, having heard that voice pleading with us to help. I have no doubt a lot more could have been done a lot earlier, especially by the police. There are going to be some serious questions asked and some difficult answers are going to have to be given.’
The three women, friends since infants’ school, had been at the Muffler bar in Newport, where they met Mr Loughlin and Mr Jeanne for the first time, before they all left together at around 11.15pm on Friday.
They are then thought to have driven 36 miles to Trecco Bay caravan park in Porthcawl, where Mr Loughlin’s family had a caravan, but left after an argument, it was claimed. They travelled 28 miles back to Cardiff, where they are said to have dropped off a sixth member of the group.
They were last seen in the car at 2am on Saturday in CCTV footage taken at a petrol station in the Pentwyn area of Cardiff, not far from the crash site.
Ms Russon’s mother Anna Certowicz said she drove past the site where the car was found three times during her desperate hunt. She said police did not take her seriously when she contacted them numerous times from Saturday lunchtime to say her daughter had not come home.
Gwent Police and South Wales Police have referred the matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hoborough, of Gwent Police, said: ‘This is an extremely sad situation, and our thoughts are with the families and friends of each of the young people involved. We will continue to support the investigation and would ask members of the public to refrain from speculation during this period.’
‘More could have been done earlier’