Viola beach: Swedish police to investigate if driver was at fault for crash

Kris Leonard, River Reeves, Tomas Lowe, Jack Dakin and manager Craig Tarry were killed in a car crash in Sweden on Saturday

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The Independent Online

Swedish police have opened an investigation into the deaths of British band Viola Beach and their manager in Sweden on Saturday, and whether the driver of their car was the cause of the fatal crash.

Band members Kris Leonard, River Reeves, Tomas Lowe, Jack Dakin and their manager Craig Tarry, all aged between 19 and 32, were killed when the car they were travelling in plunged more than 80ft into a canal in Sweden.

Carina Skagerlind, a press spokesperson for Stockholm police, told the Guardian that investigators are looking into "all possible causes" for the crash. Post mortem examinations are due to be undertaken on the five bodies, which Ms Skagarlind said will be used to discover whether the driver was intoxicated or not. She said it "could be the case" that the driver is to blame for the deaths of the other passengers, but added "there are hundreds of possibilities."

"We are looking at the car, we are looking at the circumstances, we are talking to witnesses. We don't have any answers yet and we have to look at everything," she added. 

A badly damaged car is towed up from the canal under the E4 highway bridge in Sodertalje, Sweden,

The crash happened just hours after the Warrington band had played their first gig outside of the UK at the Where Is The Music? festival in Norrkoping. Their car crashed at around 2:30am local time near Stockholm.

The driver has not been formally identified, but is thought to have been the band's manager Mr Tarry. John Olsson, a musician from Swedish band Psykofant, who had played alongside Viola Beach at the Swedish festival on the day of the crash, claimed Mr Tarry had not been drinking as he was the designated driver, and said there had been "a lot of snow that day", ITV News reported

Service personnel repairing the gate a car drove through before crashing into the canal under the E4 highway bridge in Sodertalje, Sweden

Swedish police told the BBC the car had fallen through a gap in the bridge that had opened to let a boat pass through. Police added that two sets of safety barriers had been in place on the bridge, as had flashing red warning lights, and that other drivers had been waiting.

Inspector Martin Bergholm said: "For some reason, the car drove through the barriers and crashed down into the canal."

"The witnesses just saw a car beside them and kind of disappear."

Divers and rescue service personnel search for the victims of the deadly car crash in the canal under the E4 highway bridge

The band’s label, Communion, has said all proceeds from their current single ‘Boys That Sing’ will be donated to the band members’ and managers’ families.

Tributes have poured in for the group that described itself as “indie pop”. Viola Beach had released three singles and had appeared on BBC Introducing last year.

The family of Mr Leonard, 20, said: "Words cannot express the sadness we feel at the loss of our precious Kristian. He was doing the job he loved and will be missed so much by his family and friends."

General view during a minutes applause for Viola Beach and Craig Tarry, who had been a Manchester City supporter, during the Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur match

"We ask for privacy to grieve at this devastating time."

The family of Mr Reeves, 19, said they were "heartbroken" by his death alongside the bandmates and manager "he adored and loved".

In a statement, they said: "All River wanted to do was perform and entertain and to think that he will never make us laugh again with his ridiculous impressions and cheeky banter is beyond comprehension for all his family."

Viola Beach

Relatives of Mr Lowe described him as "the best son, brother, uncle and friend you could ever wish for" and said his life had been "tragically cut short".

Mr Tarry's family said they were "devastated" and "grieving the loss of their son and also for the other families involved in this tragic accident".

The Boileroom in Guildford, where the band had been scheduled to play on Saturday, posted on Instagram that its managers were “saddened and devastated” to hear of the crash, while band Kasabian said in a statement: “Our hearts go out to the families and friends of Viola Beach. So sad x.”

The band, who previously toured with The Courteeners, were just weeks away from playing a homecoming gig at Warrington's Pyramid on March 12.

Additional reporting by PA