Four die as teenager's car careers into canal

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The Independent Online
Four teenagers drowned in the early hours of yesterday morning after their car careered off a bridge into a canal. A fifth occupant, who broke a leg after being thrown from the vehicle before it entered the water, could only watch from the bridge as her friends died.

Katrina Josephs, 16, had been sitting in the back seat of her schoolfriend's blue Ford Escort when it skidded across Twyford bridge, Oxfordshire, and hit a parapet. She was thrown through the back window on to the road and broke her left leg. The car then somersaulted into the Oxford-Banbury canal near the village of Kings Sutton.

The victims, who are all from Banbury, were Richard Craig Wheeler, 18, the driver; Carmen Miranda Maguire, 17; Mia Jane Sabin,16; and Fiona Caine,15.

A spokesman for the traffic division of Thames Valley Police said the incident was one of the worst he had ever attended. "The four bodies were found in the car when the fire brigade attached ropes to it in the canal and pulled it on to its side. They were all trapped in the vehicle when it landed on its roof.

"It was a shocking accident. The poor girl survivor is traumatised by the whole thing and is likely to need specialist counselling to come to terms with it."

Once she had been flung free of the car, Ms Josephs sat for more than an hour on the bridge crying out for help. Injuries to her back and neck, as well as her leg, meant she was unable to move. Eventually her cries were heard by the occupants of a narrowboat, moored 100 yards away on the canal.

George Jewison, 61, was awoken by his wife, Wendy, who said she had heard faint cries for help. "It was about 2.50am when my wife thought she heard someone crying," he said. "Then she heard a shout and woke me up.

"I checked the area and found a young girl sitting at the end of the bridge parapet with her knees to her chest. She said: `Can you help me? I can't move.' I asked how she got there and she said 90 minutes before the car she was in with her friends had gone into the canal. I looked into the canal and I could just see the wheels of the car above the water. The whole thing was completely submerged.

"She told me she couldn't move her legs so I covered her up until an ambulance arrived. She was pretty incoherent.

"I couldn't find out where she had come from or where the youngsters had been, but she told me her name was Katrina," he said.

Ms Josephs was last night in the intensive care unit of Horton General Hospital, Banbury, suffering from severe hypothermia. Doctors described her condition as serious.

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