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Members of UK indie band Viola Beach killed in Sweden car crash

Members and manager of British band Viola Beach died when their car plunged 25 metres off a highway bridge into a canal in Stockholm during first international tour

14 February 2016, 4:23pm
Five British men believed to be the members and manager of British indie band Viola Beach have died in a car crash in Sweden.

Kris Leonard, River Reeves, Tomas Lowe and Jack Dakin, and manager Craig Tarry, aged between 19 and 35, were killed when their car hit a road barrier and plunged 25 metres off a highway bridge into a canal near the capital, Stockholm.  

Stockholm police spokeswoman Eva Nilsson said on Saturday that divers had recovered the bodies of five men. Tributes quickly came in on social media to the Cheshire band and their manager.

The cause of the accident on the E4 highway in Södertälje district, south-west of Stockholm, was not known. Swedish media said that at the time of the pre-dawn accident, the bridge over the Södertälje canal was closing after it had been opened to let a vessel sail through. Its warning lamps were flashing and two barriers were blocking the road.

The bridge, at the Saltskogs junction between the E4 and the E20 motorways, has a middle section that rises directly upwards without tilting, leaving a gap that the car drove into.

Insp Martin Bergholm of Stockholm police said: “For some reason, the car drove through the barriers and crashed down into the canal.”

Drivers of other cars waited behind the barrier. It is not yet known whether a boat had already passed or was waiting to pass. Bergholm added: “The witnesses just saw a car beside them and kind of disappear.”

He said it was not yet known whether the five men were wearing seatbelts, but added: “That would not have helped them.”

Police received a call at about 2.30am and arrived at the scene a “maximum five minutes” later.

Bergholm said: “Police arrived first, then the fire brigade who came with fire brigade divers at the scene and found the car and three bodies. We didn’t know how many people there were in the car but we found out there were five.”

Viola Beach were playing at Sweden’s Where’s the Music? festival on Friday, and had dozens of upcoming live shows planned

The up-and-coming band previously toured with the Courteeners and worked with Communion Records founder and Mumford and Sons producer Ian Grimble.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We can confirm that five British nationals died in a car accident in Sweden on 13 February. We are in contact with local authorities and supporting the families at this difficult time.”

Viola Beach consisted of the guitarist and vocalist Kris Leonard, guitarist River Reeves, bassist Tomas Lowe and drummer Jack Dakin. The band’s manager was Craig Tarry. The Boiler Room - the Guildford venue they were due to play - said it was "saddened and devastated" to learn of the fatal crash.

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