Two Cardiff crash survivors remain in hospital, as three victims were identified by families inquest hears

17 March 2023, 15:34

Sophie Russon, 20, and Shane Loughlin, 32, who survived the crash were badly injured and remain at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.
Sophie Russon, 20, and Shane Loughlin, 32, who survived the crash were badly injured and remain at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. Picture: LBC / Alamy

By Danielle DeWolfe

An inquest opening into the death of three people killed in a horror crash in Cardiff has heard the victims were pronounced dead at the scene, while two survivors remain in hospital.

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The bodies of Rafel Jeanne, 24, Eve Smith, 21, and Darcy Ross, 21, were discovered alongside two survivors inside a crashed vehicle beside a roundabout on the A48(M) near the St Mellons area of the city.

The group were reported missing by individual family members after they failed to return from a night out in Cardiff.

South Wales Central Coroner's Court has heard the three were declared dead at the scene after their car veered off the road into a wooded area in the early hours of March 4th.

During its opening, the inquest heard how the victims spent 46 hours trapped inside the car after it crashed at 2.03am on Saturday, March 4, before they were found by police.

Eve smith was one of three crash victims who were pronounced dead at the scene.
Eve smith was one of three crash victims who were pronounced dead at the scene. Picture: LBC / Gwent Police

Post-mortems carried out at the University Hospital Wales did not provide a provisional cause of death, with the pathologist noting history and toxicology needed to be taken into account.

The inquest heart that all three victims were identified by family members.

All three inquests have now been adjourned pending further investigation - although a new date is yet to be set.

Sophie Russon, 20, and Shane Loughlin, 32, who survived the crash were badly injured and remain at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

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It follows widespread public criticism of Gwent Police and South Wales Police by the families of the victims, after they allege their missing persons reports were not taken seriously and acted upon.

Both forces are now under investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) after referring themselves to the watchdog.

It comes as one of the two survivors, Shane Loughlin, 32, said he had "only just found out" what happened in the early hours of last Saturday morning (March 4).

Mr Loughlin said on Facebook in a statement released via a friend: "Only just found out what happened just want to say sorry to everyone and Thank you everyone who helped with the search party and thank you for everyone wishing me well I’ll be back soon love you all."

Darcy Ross was last seen at the Newport nightclub.
Darcy Ross was last seen at the Newport nightclub. Picture: Social media

"Rip Rafel, Eve, and Darcy. Can’t believe it gutted is an understatement heart goes out to all families and friends of the people that has passed. Long way to recovery mentally and physically but we’ll get there."

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Questions have been asked about why it took police so long to find the car, and Ms Russon's mother claimed police told her to "stop calling" while she drove around South Wales looking for her daughter after the group went missing.

Officers have now confirmed no other vehicle was involved in the crash. Watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct are looking into how the investigation has been carried out.

Rafel Jeanne
Rafel Jeanne. Picture: Social media

IOPC director David Ford said: “My thoughts go out to the families and friends of those who have tragically lost their lives, to those who have been injured, and indeed to the many people who have been affected by this incident.

"After careful assessment of referrals from Gwent Police and South Wales Police we have decided to independently investigate how police responded to the missing person reports.

“We will be examining what information police had, the grading given to any risk assessments, and the steps taken by police to locate the missing people prior to the Volkswagen Tiguan being found just after midnight on Monday.

Eve Smith
Eve Smith. Picture: Social media

"We will also consider what communication took place between the two forces and whether police action was appropriate and followed relevant policy and procedures. Our investigation is at a very early stage.

“We will be contacting the families involved to express our sympathies, explain our role ,and set out how our investigation will progress."

"We are aware of the significant community concern about the tragic events that have unfolded and would like to assure everyone that we will conduct a thorough and timely investigation.”

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