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Tributes to passengers killed in Croydon tram derailment

Published 11/11/2016

People lay floral tributes at the scene
People lay floral tributes at the scene

A tram which crashed, killing seven people, is expected to be removed from the scene on Friday as police investigate claims that another almost derailed near the same location last week.

Six men and one woman died when the carriages came off the track in Croydon, south London, as they sped round a sharp bend on Wednesday morning.

More than 50 people were also injured.

An extra minute's silence was held to remember the victims during the town's Armistice Day ceremony - held for those who have lost their lives in conflict.

As the investigation into the deadly crash continues, fresh tributes have been paid to those killed.

Friends and family of Philip Seary, 57, who was named online as one of the dead, left messages of condolence to a "lovely gentle giant of a man".

In a statement his family said: "We as a family are in shock, completely heartbroken and utterly devastated. We have lost a much loved wonderful son, faithful husband and a loving and doting father and grandfather.

"Everyone that knew him he was a gentle giant with a heart to match. He was a devoted Crystal Palace fan and well known locally. He will be immensely missed by all that had the great fortune to know him."

The Crystal Palace fan from New Addington, who was known as "Tank", was reported to have been killed in Wednesday morning's crash, along with five other men and a woman.

Another victim has been named by friends and family on Facebook.

Mark Smith, a young father from Croydon who had a fiancee, could "make everyone laugh", according to a tribute posted by his cousin Tom Smith.

Mr Smith wrote on Facebook: "Still cannot believe this is true, the last couple of days have just felt like a nightmare that I'm gonna wake up from.

"Not only were you my cousin but literally my best friend. The thought that we are all never gonna see you or hear from you again makes me feel sick.

"We are all in bits and I just wish you could walk back into your home with that smile on your face and make everyone laugh."

Another friend, Rich Padley, wrote on Facebook: "Trying to find the right words to say in light of the tragic events that happened on Wednesday morning, Marky was one of the nicest guys I've ever met in the car scene, and always made time for anyone.

"RIP dude, the world's a sadder place without you that's for sure, my heart goes out to your loved ones that you've left behind."

Dane Chinnery, a 19-year-old Crystal Palace fan described as a "friendly, genuine lad", was the first victim to be identified following the crash.

The only woman to have been killed in the crash was named in reports as 35-year-old Dorota Rynkiewicz from New Addington.

Simon Smith, chief executive of SSP UK where she worked, told the BBC the company "offered our heartfelt condolences to her family and we are doing all we can to support them at this difficult time".

The tram driver, a 42-year-old man from Beckenham, was released on bail after being arrested on suspicion of manslaughter over the crash on a sharp bend as the vehicle travelled from New Addington to Wimbledon at 6.10am.

Detectives are examining a report that a tram "lifted onto one side" at 40mph in the same area on October 31.

Andy Nias wrote on Facebook that he and 29 fellow travellers "all thought our time was up".

BTP said the claim "will now form one of our lines of inquiry".

Councillor Tony Newman, the leader of Croydon Borough Council, said it is "entirely fitting" that the Armistice Day ceremony was extended to allow for reflection of the awful events and the victims remembered".

Investigators said the tram was travelling at a "significantly higher speed than is permitted" and are probing whether the driver had fallen asleep.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has launched a witness appeal, with anyone who was on the tram or has information relevant to the accident being asked to complete an incident form on the organisation's website.

An interim report into what happened will be published by the RAIB next week, with a final report, including any safety recommendations, coming at the conclusion of the investigation.

Croydon MP Gavin Barwell spoke to relatives near the scene where floral tributes and football scarves have been placed.

Authorities are still working on formally identifying the victims, Mr Barwell said.

He said: "I'm sure the coroner doesn't have an easy job to do at all. It's quite right that the authorities absolutely want to make sure when they give a formal identification that they've got that 100% right.

"It's prolonging the agony, but I think if you're doing my job part of the responsibility is to understand their (relatives') frustration and to go back to the authorities and explain how they're feeling but also to explain to them (families) why it's a difficult job and why it's not something that can be done overnight."

Croydon Council has created an online fundraising page - https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/croydon-council-tram-incident-fund - to help people affected by the derailment.

It states: "Many of those involved will require long-term emotional and financial support in the difficult months ahead. This is the official fund to raise money to enable those directly affected by this tragedy, their families, and where appropriate, the wider community, to have access to ongoing care and support. "

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