A mother survived after losing her two young sons in a devastating Christmas Day crash on the M6 motorway. It marked a black day on Britain's roads, when five people were killed and several were seriously injured.
The brothers, aged four and 10, were confirmed dead at the scene, along with a 32-year-old female passenger, after the car they were travelling in crashed shortly before midday.
The driver of the car, who police believe to be the boys' mother, and another woman passenger are to be discharged from hospital today.
A spokesman for the University Hospital of North Staffordshire said: "The patients will be leaving hospital later today."
Chief Superintendent Martin Evans, of the Central Motorway Police, West Midlands, said: "The three people who have sadly lost their lives – we have a 32-year-old female and very sadly two brothers aged 10 and four. It's horrible two brothers have been killed. Any fatal or serious collision is traumatic and tragic. I think the fact that it's Christmas Day and it's children involved, it adds an extra gravity to it."
In an earlier incident, a husband and wife died and their son suffered serious injuries while driving on the B3349 near Basingstoke in Hampshire.
The cause of the accident on the M6 is not known. It happened on the northbound carriageway between junctions 14 and 15 between Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent, resulting in the motorway being closed in both directions, causing long tailbacks.
Despite heavy rain in recent days, conditions when the accident occurred at 11.25am were said to be fine and dry, according to the Highways Agency.
Two air ambulances and three emergency vehicles attended the scene, but a spokesman for West Midlands Ambulance Service said paramedics and a doctor were unable to save the two boys and the woman. "All emergency services personnel worked seamlessly together at the scene in exceptionally difficult circumstances. Unfortunately, the outcome was not the one everyone would have hoped for," he said.
The couple who died in the crash near Basingstoke were believed to be passengers while their son, who is aged in his 20s and was driving, suffered serious chest injuries. Their silver vehicle is reported to have hit a tree.
Police in Suffolk also confirmed last night that a 23-year-old man involved in an accident on the A14 on Christmas Eve has died. He was fatally injured when four vehicles crashed into three horses running loose on the carriageway at Sproughton, near Ipswich, at 10.20pm. A 26-year-old Ipswich man has been arrested on suspicion of causing danger to road users. The three animals were also killed.
Before the fatal accident on the M6, a man in his mid-20s suffered multiple injuries and his vehicle was torn into three pieces after his car smashed into road signs and a bridge.