Viola Beach crash 'likely to remain a mystery'
It may never be known why the car carrying Viola Beach ploughed through crash barriers and plunged into a canal, an inquest has heard.
The British band’s manager, Craig Tarry, drove through two sets of barriers during the crash,
It happened as the four-piece were heading back to a hotel after playing near Stockholm on 13 February this year.
Despite flashing warning lights, the Nissan Qashqai drove down a verge, past stationary traffic and through two barriers – the first 120m from the bridge – before hitting a raised section of the structure and falling 30m.
The bridge had opened to let a boat pass underneath.
The car turned hit the water at 54mph.
Mr Tarry and Mr Leonard were in the front and wearing seatbelts, the others in the back were not.
Craig Tarry, 32, Kris Leonard, 19, River Reeves, 19, Tomas Lowe, 27 and Jack Dakin, 19, were all killed.
Mr Tarry had no alcohol or drugs in his system, and the others had no drugs in their body – just small amounts of alcohol.
Examination showed there was nothing wrong with the vehicle, the signalling or the barrier system.
The road was wet but not frozen.
Coroner Nicholas Rheinberg, in charge of the inquest in Warrington, said they had all died from head injuries apart from Mr Lowe who died from drowning.
As he expressed sympathy for the “awful tragedy”, he said the reason for the crash could remain a mystery.
“It’s not for me to speculate, it is now known, I don’t think it ever will be known what happened,” said Mr Rheinberg, who recorded the deaths as “accidental”.
After the hearing Supt Martin Cleworth, from Cheshire Police, added: “Many questions will remain unanswered
and may well do so infinitum. It is a truly, truly tragic case…
“We have given a commitment to continue to work with the coroner and the families to try and seek to understand some other issues that came from the inquest.
“Those questions are unlikely to actually ever get to that fundamental fact as to what went on in the seconds leading to the tragic collision.”
Tuesday’s hearing was attended by more than 20 family members of the five men.
Margaret Lowe, mother of bass player Tomas Lowe, said her son, like his father, played the guitar and formed a band while still at school.
Benedict Dunne, father of guitarist River Reeves, said his son had studied drama and then changed to music.
“It was a situation where, ultimately, River, being the wilful person he was, wanted to follow his dreams,” he said.
“He was doing something he loved, which is not always something you get to do. He was as happy as he’s ever been.”
The band’s debut album was released after the tragedy and their debut song Swings & Waterslides reached 11 in the charts.