Deaths mar holiday as temperature plummets: Snow brings punters pounds 75,000 in payouts

THE HOLIDAY was marred by several fatal accidents, despite generally quiet roads, while freezing weather and some snow forced William Hill to pay out pounds 75,000 to punters who had bet on a white Christmas.

A car ploughed into two grandfathers taking a stroll in Thornhill, Mid Glamorgan, yesterday as their grandson looked on. The driver, 59, who was found dead in the wreckage of his car, may have had a heart attack at the wheel, according to an ambulance spokesman.

The men, aged 63 and 75, from Llanelli in Dyfed and Bridgwater in Somerset, were last night seriously ill with head and leg injuries.

Albert Titchener, 78, died yesterday after he collapsed at the wheel of his car and hit a fence. A railing which pierced the windscreen narrowly missed his wife, Gladys. Police said he may have suffered a heart attack. The crash happened near the couple's home in Bed hampton, Hampshire.

A 53-year-old man died yesterday when his car skidded on an icy road and plunged into a ditch on the A47 at Burlingham, Norfolk.

A man fell to his death through a hole in a seaside pier yesterday. Peter Morris, 33, of Llandudno, North Wales, was found on rocks 30ft below the town's pier, which is undergoing renovation.

A motorist killed in a Christmas Day crash in Scalby, North Yorkshire, was yesterday named by police as Frederick Lay, of Filey.

Police are investigating the death of Jean Crossley, 60, who was at the wheel of her new Saab 900 on the A30 at Milbourne Port on the Dorset-Somerset border when it left the road on Christmas Day and smashed into a tree.

An 82-year-old man died after being hit by a car as he crossed the road on his way to have Christmas dinner with relatives. David Jones of Penmaen-rhos near Colwyn Bay, Clwyd, died from head injuries after the accident in Abergele Road, Old Colwyn.

Sharon Felcey, 27, of Epworth, died on Christmas Day when her car left the road and crashed into a bridge, then came to rest in a water- filled drain at the side of an unclassified road in south Humberside.

A 15-year-old boy was killed when a car in which he was a passenger crashed at Sion Mills, Co Antrim, on Saturday night.

In Scotland, police said 22 motorists failed breath tests on Christmas Day compared with 12 last year.

More than 100 passengers on a Brittany ferry unexpectedly spent Christmas Day on board ship when force-10 storms in the Bay of Biscay forced the 23,000 ton Bretagne into a French port. The passengers, returning to Plymouth from a mini- cruise to Santander, Spain, were provided with Christmas dinner and festivities by the crew.

There were low temperatures over the weekend in many parts, particularly in Scotland where the thermometer dipped to minus 16C at Altnaharra, Caithness. At Aviemore, minus 15C was recorded and fresh snow made conditions perfect for skiing.

William Hill, which paid out pounds 75,000 to people who bet on a white Christmas this year, is already offering 6-1 on snow falling on 25 December 1994.

A Leeds businessman was among the winners this year after betting pounds 500 at 7-1. But he gave the winnings away after having divided the stake into 500 individual pounds 1 bets which had been sent out with his Christmas cards, a William Hill spokesman said.