Cardiff crash: Everything we know about friends’ night out that ended in tragedy

Fateful night out included 70-mile round trip that started with Sophie Russon, Eve Smith, and Darcy Ross at Muffler bar in Newport

Martha McHardy
Tuesday 07 March 2023 13:33 GMT
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Drone footage of fatal Cardiff car crash scene

Three people who died in a Cardiff car crash that also left two others fighting for their life lay undiscovered in the wreckage for up to 46 hours before they were found.

Eve Smith, 21, Darcy Ross, 21 and Rafel Jeanne, 24, died after the car they were travelling in came off the A48(M) and crashed into trees. Sophie Russon, 20, and Shane Loughlin, 32, remain in critical condition in hospital.

The crashed car was found in the early hours of Monday morning almost two days after the group was last seen around 2am on Saturday.

Here’s what we know about where they went before they disappeared:

Darcy Ross, Eve Smith and Rafel Jeanne
Darcy Ross, Eve Smith and Rafel Jeanne (Facebook)

Where did the group go?

All five people were last seen in Cardiff in the early hours of Saturday, while the car was recovered just after midnight on Monday in the St Mellons area of Cardiff.

The 73-mile round trip began with Sophie Russon, Eve Smith, and Darcy Ross, all from Newport, at the Muffler bar and club in Maesglas in Newport on Friday evening. Ms Smith’s car was still parked outside the bar on Sunday.

The scene in the St Mellons area of Cardiff where three people who disappeared on a night out have died
The scene in the St Mellons area of Cardiff where three people who disappeared on a night out have died (PA)

The three women are believed to have met Mr Loughlin and Mr Rafel Jeanne-Actie, both from Cardiff, that night before travelling to Trecco Bay Holiday Park in Porthcawl together.

The group left Porthcawl and headed back to Cardiff where they were last seen around 2am in the Llanedeyrn area.

Family and friends said the group stopped being active at around 2am on Saturday morning.

Map showing the route taken by the group on the night of the crash
Map showing the route taken by the group on the night of the crash (The Independent via Google Maps)

When did the search for them start?

Gwent Police issued a public appeal for the missing five at 11pm on Sunday, an hour or so before the wreckage was found at 12.15am . Sources told the Daily Telegraph that a missing person report was first filed with the force 19 hours after the group vanished.

On Monday morning, Gwent Police confirmed it had found the VW Tiguan the group had travelled in near a roundabout in the St Mellons area and that it had crashed on the A48 at St Mellons.

The vehicle veered off a slip road and came to rest in a small copse of evergreen trees, shielded from nearby houses and a busy garden centre.

A friend of the victims has claimed that it was members of the public who found the missing five, not the police.

A friend of the victims has claimed that it was members of the public who found the missing five, not the police
A friend of the victims has claimed that it was members of the public who found the missing five, not the police (PA)

What have family and friends said?

One friend, Tamzin Samuels, 20, told Sky News: “I do think the police could have done a lot more in putting the helicopters out earlier. They only posted the appeal an hour before the girls were found.

“The search party found the girls before the police found the girls. I think that speaks volumes really, they had all that equipment, and we had cars when we were looking.”

The car was found near a roundabout in the St Mellons area
The car was found near a roundabout in the St Mellons area (Ben Birchall/PA Wire)

The mother of victim Sophie Russons claimed police told her to “stop ringing” the station for updates.

Anna Certowicz, 42, told the Daily Mail that something “must be wrong” after not having heard from her or her friends Eve Smith and Darcy Ross.

Ms Certowicz, 42, said she drove around the Gwent and Cardiff areas in a desperate search for her daughter.

She told the Daily Mail: “They didn’t seem to care. I had to drive to Cardiff to knock on doors myself because they were doing s*d all. They just didn’t seem to think it was worth investigating. It was so frustrating.

“I think they assumed that Sophie was hungover somewhere, but she’s a sensible girl who works in a bank and hasn’t taken a day off for three years.

“She’s not someone who’s out clubbing in Cardiff all the time. On Friday nights she’s more likely to be babysitting so other people can go out. She wouldn’t just vanish like this unless something was wrong.

“The police asked me to stop ringing but at the end of the day I’m a mum I’m going to worry. Her little sister is worrying too, she’s only 13 and she’s wondering where Sophie is.”

The police watchdog confirmed that it has received a self-referral from Gwent Police in connection with the fatal Cardiff crash.

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