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Tributes paid to 'beautiful' family killed in M6 fireball


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Neighbours of a family who died when their car burst into a fireball after colliding with a lorry on the M6 paid tribute to "six beautiful people" today.


David Statham, 38, his wife Michelle, 33, and their children, Reece, 13, Jay, nine, Nafon, one, and 10-week-old Elouise were thought to have been travelling home to Llandudno, North Wales, after visiting relatives in Birmingham when the accident happened on Monday evening.


Mr Statham worked as a chef at St David’s College, a private school at Llandudno.


The casualties were so badly burnt, and their vehicle so damaged, that police struggled for much of the day to identify them, and to inform surviving family. For some hours, emergency services had assumed there were only five victims.


Police said that the car disappeared beneath a truck after being struck by it, exploding into flames on impact, during a tailback on the motorway in Cheshire. The accident took place between junctions 16 and 17 of the northbound M6.


The traffic jam had been caused by an accident about an hour earlier in which David Myers, a former rugby league player for Wigan Warriors and Great Britain, was killed.


Lyn Claricas, a 70-year-old shop worker, who lives across the road from the Stathams’ house, in in the centre of Llandudno, north Wales, said: “It made me feel absolutely sick when I heard the news.


“They were lovely people, quite quiet, with very well behaved children. They were a very happy family.


“The only thing I can be grateful for is that they shouldn’t have suffered a lot because of the way the car was smashed. But that's almost too much to think about.”


Vince Collina, 49, another neighbour, said: “They were a wonderful, model family, just six beautiful people.


“They had lived here for about four years. I was painting my house when they moved in and Michelle asked if I could paint theirs - so I did.”


Mr Collina, a builder who lives doors away from the family, said there was a horrible sense of worry yesterday when he discovered the six dead came from the seaside town.


He said: “My heart just sank when I found out and my mouth went dry. Then the confirmation came and it has just knocked us for six. The police called to ask about their car and at first I thought it had just been stolen. We just can’t believe it.”


Judith Leslie, the bursar at the private school where Mr Statham worked as a chef, said: “The whole of St David’s community was devastated to hear of the awful tragedy and our thoughts are with David’s family.


“David was a well-liked member of staff, always had a friendly smile and would lend a helping hand - nothing was ever too much trouble.


“He will be very sadly missed. He made a huge impression because he was so amiable and cheerful. I have just been across to the canteen now and everybody is desperately upset.”


The family had been visiting relatives in Birmingham before setting off for home on Monday night.


A 46-year-old Portuguese HGV driver, who works for a Spanish haulage firm, was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. Police continued to question him this morning, and must decide whether to charge him by this afternoon.



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