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Shoreham air crash: Memorial events held to remember victims

Published 29/08/2015

People look at floral tributes left on the Old Tollbridge near the A27 at Shoreham in West Sussex after last week's crash
People look at floral tributes left on the Old Tollbridge near the A27 at Shoreham in West Sussex after last week's crash

Thousands of people in communities touched by the Shoreham air crash have gathered at memorial events one week on from the disaster which claimed 11 lives.

A minute's silence was observed at 1.20pm, the time last Saturday when the vintage Hawker Hunter jet crashed on the busy A27 in West Sussex.

A mass balloon release was held in Littlehampton.

And despite light showers large crowds tonight gathered with tealights to create a striking "bridge of light" across the Adur Ferry Bridge.

The disaster happened as the 1950s plane failed to pull out of a loop-the-loop stunt during the Shoreham Airshow before crashing, exploding into a fireball.

Today, in the shadow of the crash site, people young and old stood on a wooden bridge over the River Adur where thousands of floral tributes have been laid.

As the silence was observed at the exact moment the plane crashed, many stood visibly moved on the Old Shoreham Tollbridge, which has become a focal point to remember the lost lives.

Members of the Surrey and Sussex Drum and Bugle Corps sounded the Last Post before the crowd fell silent below leaden clouds.

Bugler James Williams, 31, from Worthing, spoke of his link to the disaster and the sense of rawness which still exists.

He said: "My dad Ian Williams saw the plane going up on the other side of the Southwick Tunnel and as he came through it crashed.

"If it wasn't for the fact that the person he was picking up was late he could potentially have been caught up in it."

The poignant gatherings were held as West Sussex senior coroner Penelope Schofield announced that all victims have now been formally identified and their families told.

Inquests into their deaths will be opened and adjourned on Wednesday at County Hall North in Horsham where all 11 victims' names will be officially released.

Ms Schofield said: "Identifying all 11 victims has been a difficult process due to the horrific nature of the accident and the intensity of the fire."

Detective Chief Inspector Carwyn Hughes, the senior identification manager at Sussex Police, said: "We cannot discount any further victims as our search at the scene continues but we have no reason to suspect that there is anyone else."

Tony Brightwell, 53, from Hove, a health care manager for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Brighton and Hove City Council, is the latest victim to be named by police.

Grandfather Mark Reeves, 53, who died after parking his motorbike on the outskirts of Shoreham Airshow to take photographs of the planes, is also among the dead.

Four other victims include Worthing United footballers and best friends Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, both 23, who were on their way to play in a match when they were killed.

Personal trainer Matt Jones, 24, also died, along with wedding chauffeur Maurice Abrahams, 76, a former soldier who had served in the Parachute Regiment.

Motorcyclist Mark Trussler is also feared dead. Mr Trussler's fiancee, Giovanna Chirico, wrote on Facebook of her grief. Sussex Police have not officially confirmed his death.

She wrote: "Yesterday my worst fears were confirmed and I lost not just my fiance but my best friend, soul mate and sidekick.

"No words can describe how much all ur family and friends r going to miss u. So glad I got to spend the last 12 years of my life with u an love u always and eternally."

The sister of Daniele Polito, a father from Worthing, wrote on her Facebook page of her "last few painful days" and her loss for her brother. Police have also yet to officially confirm his death.

The jet crashed with such force that specialists - including forensic archaeologists, anthropologists, odontologists and pathologists - had to examine DNA, teeth and human remains to discover who was killed.

The A27 has been closed since the crash, and Sussex Police said it is due to reopen on Bank Holiday Monday.

The plane wreckage has been sent to Farnborough, Hampshire, where Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) investigators will seek to find out what caused the crash. An interim report is due in the next few days.

The jet's pilot, Andrew Hill, was left fighting for his life after the crash, and has now been moved to a specialist hospital for treatment.

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