Cardiff car crash: Three of missing five found dead

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Shane Loughlin, Eve Smith, Sophie Russon, Rafel Jeanne, Darcy RossImage source, Social Media

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Shane Loughlin, Eve Smith, Sophie Russon, Rafel Jeanne and Darcy Ross (clockwise from top left) had been reported missing

By Alun Thomas & Hywel Griffith in St Mellons & Nick Bourne

BBC News

Police searching for five people have found three dead and two injured two days after they went missing following a night out.

Gwent Police said it believed the group had been involved in a car crash.

Sophie Russon, 20, Eve Smith, 21, Darcy Ross, 21, Rafel Jeanne, 24, and Shane Loughlin, 32, were last seen at about 02:00 GMT on Saturday in Cardiff.

The car they were last seen in was found by a member of the public early on Monday on the A48 in St Mellons.

The road is a major route into Cardiff and the car was found near a busy roundabout close to a garden centre.

Family and friends made repeated appeals to find the missing group over the course of the weekend, with the mother of one of the girls saying she had been told to stop contacting police for updates.

Ms Russon is one of the two in hospital and is in a critical condition, her cousin said, while the three dead have yet to be identified.

A long police cordon marked out the crash scene at what would normally be a busy stretch of dual carriageway, connecting Cardiff and Newport.

Just below the slipway, down a small bank is a wooded area where the car was discovered. Officers have been working there, hidden from view by the trees, recovering the bodies and investigating the scene.

One resident said the area was hard to reach on foot and was in an area where “no one walks”.

The car was removed on a truck just before 13:00, with the vehicle covered over by police and the road reopened an hour later.

Police will be trying to establish exactly when the car crashed there following the last sighting of the group, and why it took until the early hours of Monday for it to be discovered.

Near the scene, people have laid flowers.

Image source, PA Media

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People have been laying floral tributes near the scene in St Mellons

A woman who lives nearby said many people felt shocked after waking up to hear about the tragedy.

Jo Warner, who lives near the crash site, said walking past the scene made it feel horribly real.

She added: “What they’ve been through, you can’t bear thinking about it can you? I wouldn’t like to surmise what happened but it’s just heart-breaking.

“It could have been anyone’s kids. It could have been mine.”

Image source, Social media

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Elishia Rebecca Ross shared a photo on social media asking if anyone had seen her sister, Darcy Ross, pictured here with Rafel Jeanne

Over the weekend, family and friends of the missing group appealed numerous times on social media to find them.

The women, from Newport, had gone to The Muffler club in the Maesglas area of the city late on Friday.

They then travelled 36 miles (58km) to Trecco Bay, a caravan park in the seaside resort of Porthcawl, Bridgend county, with the two men, both from Cardiff.

A Snapchat photo shared by Ms Ross’s sister showed her and Mr Jeanne together on the night they went missing.

The group was last seen in Llanedeyrn, Cardiff, in the early hours of Saturday, but it is not yet clear when the crash happened.

Ms Russon’s mother, Anna Certowicz, 42, was driving around in a desperate search for her daughter after police officers told her to “stop ringing” the station for updates.

She told the Daily Mail: “They didn’t seem to care. I had to drive to Cardiff to knock on doors myself because they were doing sod all. They just didn’t seem to think it was worth investigating. It was so frustrating.”

Writing on Twitter, Hollie Smith said her cousin, Ms Russon, had been taken to hospital in a critical condition.

“Sadly, the three other passengers have died and we’re thinking of the families who have lost their loved ones,” she wrote.

The Volkswagen Tiguan they were travelling in was found in the early hours of Monday near a busy roundabout on the A48, close to Cardiff Garden Centre.

Image source, Getty Images

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An investigation is under way at the scene

A temporary fence was put up at the side of the carriageway where officers concentrated their investigation.

Before the car was found, one of the girls’ aunts said there had been “no contact and no social media presence since the early hours of Saturday morning”.

In an appeal to find them, Tori Preece posted a message on Facebook saying that “all of the families involved are extremely concerned”.

“They are not girls who take unnecessary risks and are always in close contact with their families,” she wrote.

Ms Preece shared a post from Lauren Doyle who said it was “unusual” the girls had not made contact and friends and families were “worried sick and thinking the worst”.

Specialist officers are supporting the families, police said.

The case has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) in line with normal procedure.

The IOPC said: “We will carry out an assessment in due course to determine what further action may be required from us.”

Image source, Google

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The women had gone to The Muffler club in the Maesglas area of Newport late on Friday

Gwent Police has confirmed South Wales Police was investigating the crash.

South Wales Police said it received a call at 00:15 “to a report of a car being located” off the A48 in St Mellons.

“Our thoughts are with the those affected by this incident,” it said

St Mellons resident Howard Dainton, 72, said the scene of the crash was in a wooded area.

“No one walks down there because it’s hard to get in that area on foot,” he said.

“It’s just a copse of trees and a ditch and behind that farmer fields.

Image source, Getty Images

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A recovery vehicle removed the car from the scene

Meanwhile, a man has been arrested at the scene for prevention of breach of the peace, police said.

PA news agency reported that it was understood that Thomas Taylor, 47, from Rumney, Cardiff, had been arrested after being asked to leave the area.

Speaking before he was arrested, Mr Taylor, a film and TV extra, told PA: “When I heard the reports, I just couldn’t believe it could be possible that a car could come off and no-one know they were there.

“I still don’t understand it.

“It’s natural they might have disappeared for a bit, but the families’ instincts are right.”

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