Five killed after driver heads wrong way on M1

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The Independent Online

Five people, including four members of the same family, were killed after a driver turned his car around in roadworks on the M1 and started driving along the motorway in the wrong direction.

A middle-aged mother and her son and daughter, both in their 20s, along with their uncle, were all pronounced dead at the scene of the accident on the southbound M1 in Bedfordshire on Saturday night.

Police said the family members, thought to be from the London area, were travelling in a Jaguar which collided with a Volkswagen Passat being driven in the wrong direction by a Polish man who also died.

The accident happened at 11.20pm near junction 11 between Luton and Dunstable.

It is believed the Passat driver, who was travelling alone, was originally heading in the correct direction, but turned his car around after encountering roadworks which had restricted the carriageway to one lane.

Rescue workers who were called to the scene on Saturday night said the mangled cars were "unrecognisable".

The motorway was closed for nearly six hours, with debris scattered over a large part of the carriageway. Yesterday police were still informing the next-of-kin and urgently seeking witnesses.

Inspector Colin Bonner of Bedfordshire Police said: "We don't know why this driver turned around – it may have been roadworks, he may have been confused or ill," he said.

A spokeswoman for Bedfordshire Police said they were still trying to trace the driver's relatives.

"With regards to the person in the Passat we believe his family are back in Poland, so clearly we have not been able to track them down," she said.

Gary Sanderson from the East of England Ambulance Service described the accident as the "worst" he had witnessed in more than 22 years in the job.

He said: "The cars were unrecognisable and there was nothing that could be done for the people involved.

"It appears the Polish man was travelling the wrong way. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

"The people in the Jaguar were also all pronounced dead at the scene.

"It was an awful tragedy and our thoughts are with their families."

Police are urging witnesses to come forward and will release names of the victims later this week, once families and next-of-kin have been notified.