Tributes to 'likeable and bubbly' A34 crash victim
Colleagues of a council finance officer killed in a rush-hour pile-up along with three children have spoken of their shock at the loss of a "likeable and bubbly person".
Tracy Houghton, 45, from Dunstable, Bedfordshire, died in the accident on the A34 in Berkshire on Wednesday.
Her sons Joshua, 11, and Ethan, 13, have been named in reports as two of the young victims, while an 11-year-old girl also died at the scene.
Thames Valley Police have declined to comment on reports that Ms Houghton's partner was driving behind in a separate vehicle at the time of the crash, which involved four heavy goods vehicles and four cars.
A spokeswoman for Central Bedfordshire Council said: "This terrible news has come as a great shock to everyone who knew Tracy, who worked within our financial services team based in Dunstable.
"Tracy worked directly with our customers and was a dedicated and highly professional member of staff."
Her team leader, Gary Muskett, said: "Tracy was a hugely likeable and bubbly person who was much admired by her colleagues, many of whom saw her also as a dear friend.
"Our thoughts and condolences are with her family."
Outside Ms Houghton's home a woman came to lay flowers accompanied by her daughter.
A tribute, addressed to "Ethan and family", said: "Going to miss you all!"
The woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said they were a "lovely family".
"There's not a lot I can say really, apart from they shouldn't have been taken at all," she said.
"They should not have been taken, they were just such a lovely family and I believe the boyfriend was following and so the other son saw his sister die.
"They were just such a lovely family. The boy had this heart of gold. And so did the mother, she was amazing."
A 30-year-old man from Andover, who was driving one of the lorries involved in the fatal crash, was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and bailed until October 5.
Tributes were posted online, with one user writing on Facebook: "Today one of the most horrible things happened? one of the most innocent and nicest boys i know got killed in a car crash on the A34 along with his brother, sister and there mum? all got took too soon? (sic)."
Officers were called to a report of a collision on the northbound carriageway of the A34 between the East Ilsley and West Ilsley junctions shortly after 5.10pm.
Motorists who said they used the stretch of road regularly called it a "notorious accident black spot" and said it was overcrowded.
A man with life-threatening injuries was flown by air ambulance to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where he remains, while a man and teenage boy with minor injuries were taken to the Royal Berkshire Hospital and have since been discharged.
Nine other people who were slightly hurt were treated at the scene following the accident.
The northbound carriageway, between Chieveley at junction 13 of the M4 and between the West Ilsley junction, was closed until 6.30am on Thursday.
Chief Inspector Henry Parsons, head of the joint operations unit for roads policing, said: "Our thoughts are with anyone affected by this tragedy.
"Can I ask anyone who witnessed the collision, including anyone travelling on the southbound carriageway who saw anything they believe is significant, to contact police."
Thames Valley Police Chief Constable Francis Habgood expressed his shock following the fatal crash, posting on Twitter: "A truly awful accident on the A34 yesterday - my thoughts are with those affected by this tragic event."