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Families pay tribute to indie band and manager killed in Sweden canal plunge

Published 14/02/2016

The Foreign Office confirmed that five Britons have been killed in a car accident in Sweden
The Foreign Office confirmed that five Britons have been killed in a car accident in Sweden

British indie band Viola Beach and their manager have died after the car they were travelling in plunged more than 80ft into a canal in Sweden.

Band members Kris Leonard, River Reeves, Tomas Lowe and Jack Dakin and manager Craig Tarry were killed when their vehicle crashed just hours after they played their first gig outside the UK.

Tributes were paid to the group and Mr Tarry following the accident in Sodertalje, 18 miles from the capital Stockholm, in the early hours of Saturday.

The family of Mr Leonard, 20, said : " Words cannot express the sadness we feel at the loss of our precious Kristian. He was doing the job he loved and will be missed so much by his family and friends."

"We ask for privacy to grieve at this devastating time."

The family of Mr Reeves, 19, said they were "heartbroken" by his death alongside the bandmates and manager "he adored and loved".

In a statement, they said: "Viola Beach were on such an exciting journey and River could not have been happier. He would have loved to have stuck around for the party.

"All River wanted to do was perform and entertain and to think that he will never make us laugh again with his ridiculous impressions and cheeky banter is beyond comprehension for all his family."

Mr Tarry's family said they were "devastated" and "grieving the loss of their son and also for the other families involved in this tragic accident".

Meanwhile, relatives of Mr Lowe described him as " the best son, brother, uncle and friend you could ever wish for" and said his life had been "tragically cut short".

The band, from Warrington, Cheshire, had played the Where Is The Music? festival in Norrkoping, Sweden, shortly before the crash.

A musician who played at the gig said there had been "a lot of snow" that day and Mr Tarry, 32, had not been drinking at the event because he was driving.

John Olsson, from Swedish band Psykofant, told the Press Association: ''We shared a dressing room. They were fantastic people to be around. Very happy and chirpy.

"With their charming British accents, they were like The Beatles in A Hard Day's Night. I was standing in the audience thinking I will be able to say I hung around with Viola Beach before they made it big.''

Swedish police are examining the band's car in the hope of discovering the cause of the crash.

Officers were called to the incident at about 2.30am and said the Nissan Qashqai had gone through a barrier of a bridge which had opened to let a boat pass underneath.

The barrier, 50 metres before the opening, had flashing lights and warning signs, the officer handling the case said.

Inspector Martin Bergholm said: ''For some reason, the car drove through the barriers and crashed down into the canal."

''The witnesses just saw a car beside them and kind of disappear.''

Police spokeswoman Carena Skagerlend added: "We are looking at the car and talking to witnesses.

"We don't know anything about what caused the accident yet and we don't want to speculate until we know."

Viola Beach described themselves as an ''indie pop'' band, with Mr Leonard on guitar and vocals, Mr Reeves on guitar, Mr Lowe on bass and Mr Dakin on drums.

The four-piece released their debut single Swings & Waterslides last year and had featured on BBC Introducing, which showcases up-and-coming music artists.

The band, who previously toured with The Courteeners, were just weeks away from playing a homecoming gig at Warrington's Pyramid on March 12.

They had recently put out their second single Boys That Sing on January 22. Communion records will donate all of the proceeds from the single to the band and Mr Tarry's families, United Talent agency, which represents the band, said.

They were scheduled to play at the Boileroom in Guildford, Surrey, on Saturday but the event was cancelled following the tragedy. Posting on Instagram, the venue said it was "saddened and devastated" to learn of the fatal crash.

Further tributes to the five men, aged between 19 and 32, poured in from the music world.

British band The Enemy wrote on social media: "RIP Viola Beach and their manager. Such incredibly tragic and sad news. Thought with the friends and families of all involved x."

Rock giants Kasabian said: "Our hearts go out to the families and friends of @Viola_Beach. So sad x".

Ross Jarman from The Cribs, James Walsh, lead singer of Starsailor and The Coral's James Skelly also posted their condolences.

Radio One DJ Huw Stephens added: "So sorry to hear the news about Viola Beach and their manager. The saddest news. Thinking of all their families at this awful time."

Tributes were also paid to Mr Tarry who was described as a "man of unshakable (sic) optimism" and a passionate Manchester City football club fan.

Club fans rallied on Twitter to arrange a round of applause during the fifth minute of the Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur Premier League match.

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