Cardiff crash survivor lay injured beside dead friends for two days, says mum
A woman lay injured beside her dead friends for two days following a horror car crash in Cardiff, her mother has said, as she criticised the police response to the tragedy.
Five people - who were reported missing following a night out in the Welsh capital on Friday - were eventually found having been involved in a car crash.
Eve Smith, 21, Darcy Ross, 21, and Rafel Jeanne, 24, were found dead shortly after midnight on Monday, in a Volkswagen Tiguan which had come off the A48 in the St Mellons area of Cardiff and crashed into trees, Gwent Police said.
Sophie Russon, 20, and Shane Loughlin, 32, survived and were rushed to hospital with serious injuries.
Ms Russon’s mother, Anna Certowicz, 42, has criticised the police handling of the case.
She told the Daily Mail Gwent Police failed to take her seriously when she reported her daughter missing, allegedly telling the frantic mum Ms Russon was “probably out partying”.
“I had to drive to Cardiff to knock on doors myself,” Ms Certowicz told the paper. “They just didn’t seem to think it was worth investigating. It was so frustrating.”
The mum told the Sun that while searching for her daughter, she unwittingly drove three times past the scene of the crash, where Ms Russon lay injured but obscured by trees.
“Sophie was 20 yards away lying there scared, next to her friends who were dead,” she told the paper.
“But I didn’t see her because of the trees and there was a dip.”
Ms Russon reportedly suffered a bleed on the brain, and “was calling out at times but no one could hear her”
“She was lying there wondering if help would ever arrive,” said Ms Certowicz. “She must have thought she was going to die.
“She had head injuries so she may not have really known what was going on — at least I hope she didn’t.”
Meanwhile a friend of the victims claims the car was found not by police, but by frustrated loved ones who took the search into their own hands.
The five had last been seen on a night out in Llanedeyrn, Cardiff, in the early hours of Saturday, before being reported missing by their worried families.
Tamzin Samuels, 20, claimed it was loved ones and not police who found the car.
“We found them before the police found them - we rang the police,” she told Sky News, saying she feels police should have done more.
“The search party found the girls before the police found the girls,” she said. “I think that speaks volumes really. They had all that equipment, and we had cars when we were looking.”
A statement by South Wales Police said: “Emergency services discovered a Volkswagen Tiguan vehicle at 12.15am on Monday, March 6 after the police helicopter, police and fire officers were deployed to the scene.”
Both South Wales Police (SWP) and neighbouring Gwent Police, who were leading the missing persons investigation prior to the discovery of the car, said they have referred themselves to the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) “in line with normal procedure”.
An IOPC spokeperson said: “We can confirm that Gwent Police have advised us that they are making a referral in connection with this tragic incident and we will carry out an assessment in due course to determine what further action may be required from us.”
A vigil to remember those killed in the crash was held on Tuesday at the scene of the accident.
Tamzin Samuels, 20, a friend of the young women and who helped in the search effort, told the PA news agency: “I do think the police could have done a lot more in putting the helicopters out earlier.
“They only posted the appeal an hour before the girls were found. We found them before the police found them – we rang the police.”
Two women who were friends of the Loughlin family questioned the police response.
They said: “The police were terrible. I don’t think they took it seriously.”
They added: “The families said it was out of character for them to go missing and the police should have listened to them.
“Shane’s mum was up all weekend worried sick.
“The boys from Cardiff, all their friends were driving around looking for them. It was those people looking who found them, not the police.”
A Gwent Police spokeperson said: “We understand how distressing it is when a loved one goes missing. We are aware of media reports regarding this, and we will be liaising closely with the families involved to find out more information and address any concerns of this nature.”
Gwent Police said a first missing person report was made at 7.34pm on Saturday 4 March, with further missing person reports made at 7.43pm and 9.32pm that day. A further missing person report was made to South Wales Police at 5.37pm on Sunday 5 March, they said.
At 11.50pm on Sunday 5 March the police helicopter was requested to search an area of Cardiff which resulted in a vehicle being located in a wooded area off the A48, a statement from police said.
It added :”Gwent Police officers, who were in the area conducting enquiries during Sunday evening, discovered a Volkswagen Tiguan vehicle at 12.15am on Monday 6 March. At this stage we believe only one vehicle to be involved.”
Assistant Chief Constable Jason Davies of South Wales Police said: “Our thoughts continue to be with the families and all those affected by this tragic incident. Specialist officers are carrying out a detailed investigation to piece together what has happened. Family liaison officers are supporting the families involved at what must be a hugely difficult time for them.”