British couple from High Wycombe named as pensioners who died after driving caravan wrong way down motorway

Bill Gardner
Footage captured on dashcams showed dozens of motorists swerving - Oxford Mail/SWNS.COM

An elderly couple killed while towing a caravan the wrong way along a motorway were "lovely, gentle people", neighbours said last night.

John Norton, 80, and Olive Howard, 87, were just a few miles from their home near High Wycombe, Bucks, when they crashed on the M40 last week.

Mr Horton was believed to have been at the wheel of his Subura Forester and towing a caravan when took a wrong turning and started travelling southbound along the northbound carriageway.

Footage captured on dashcams showed dozens of motorists swerving to try to avoid crashing into the car and caravan, many flashing their headlights and blasting their horns. Mr Horton and Ms Howard travelled for around eight miles the wrong way before eventually crashing head-on into an approaching Ford Mondeo.

The driver of the Mondeo, ex-soldier Stuart Richards, aged 32 years, was also killed instantly in the impact.

Mr Richards, 32, served in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Royal Engineers and, after leaving the service in 2016, most recently worked as a health and safety inspector.

Mr Norton and Mrs Howard lived together in a house called "Dream Cum Tru." A neighbour last night said they had been settled in the area for a number of years.

“They were lovely, gentle people - very honest. They were quite private but they’d still say hello to people. It’s such a shock for everyone in the street,” the neighbour said.

It emerged last week that the couple's Subaru had been involved in another crash five days earlier in nearby High Wycombe, prompting a police watchdog investigation.

Thames Valley Police made a mandatory referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct in relation to the fatal collision "due to previous police contact".

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said that it had taken a week to identify Mr Horton and Ms Howard because of difficulties in trying to find any relatives.