Woman loses husband, brother and sister in Australian bus crash

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The Independent Online

A British woman who was severely injured in a road crash in Western Australia lost her husband, brother and sister in the tragedy.

A British woman who was severely injured in a road crash in Western Australia lost her husband, brother and sister in the tragedy.

Barbara Rowe, aged 63, of Bedworth, Warwickshire, suffered multiple injuries when the rented minibus she was travelling in collided with a meat lorry at a busy intersection outside Perth on Thursday morning.

Mrs Rowe's husband, Terry, also aged 63, her sister, 60-year-old Janet Wilson, and their brother David Walker, aged 46, were killed.

Another sister, Diane Allen, Mr Walker's twin, was hurt in the accident.

Ron Haworth, aged 66, of Coventry, who was travelling with the group, was also killed in the crash. His wife, Nora, suffered two broken arms and a broken leg. The Haworths, who were friends of the Rowes, had travelled to Australia to visit relatives.

The group was believed to have been making for the beach resort of Rockingham, south of Perth, for a picnic when the accident happened.

Witnesses said the mangled wreckage of the eight-seater minibus was pushed 50 yards along the road as the lorry came to a halt.

The driver of the lorry was not hurt in the crash.

The holiday was a long-awaited family reunion for the Rowes. Mrs Rowe, who had saved for three years to go on the trip, had not seen her younger brother since she was 17 years old.

The trip and family reunion had been planned as a treat to follow Mr Rowe's retirement from the Dunlop tyre plant in Coventry. After visiting Australia, the couple planned to travel to Mr Walker's home in New Zealand.

Their daughter was due to board a flight to Australia last night to be with her mother, who is in hospital in Perth. She is expected to arrive in Perth on Sunday morning.

Paying tribute to Mr Rowe, Councillor Jim O'Brien, a friend of the family, said: "Terry was a nice, quiet man who used to go out on pub outings."

Yesterday, family and friends gathered outside Mrs Wilson's home in Bedworth and hugged and comforted each other. John Purkiss, a neighbour aged 54, said Mrs Wilson, a cook, had five children - three daughters and two sons. "She was a loved member of the community. It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip for her," he added.

The Haworths' daughter, Julie, was too upset to speak yesterday, but her boyfriend, Tim Rafferty, said: "They spoke about the trip for weeks before they left. They were really excited about it and it has now ended in tragedy."

Sergeant Graham Clifford, of the police operations centre in Perth, said drugs or alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the road accident.

"The crash was probably due to a miscalculation by one of the drivers," he said.

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