M5 crash victims' inquest opens in Taunton

Flowers on M5 bridge
Image caption Tributes were left on a bridge over the stretch of road where the crash happened

The inquest into the deaths of the seven people killed in a crash on the M5 in Somerset last Friday has opened.

All of the bodies were officially released by the West Somerset coroner Michael Rose, at the hearing in Taunton.

He said: "Each one of these deaths is a tragedy. People bound on a normal evening's journey suddenly thrust into the middle of an horrific accident."

Thirty four vehicles were involved in the crash, and 51 people were injured.

Mr Rose also thanked the work of the emergency services, who "responded with incredible speed and in many cases considerable bravery".

Those killed in the crash were lorry drivers Terry Brice, from Patchway, South Gloucestershire, and Kye Thomas, from Gunnislake, Cornwall; father and daughter Michael and Maggie Barton, from Windsor, Berkshire; grandparents Anthony and Pamela Adams, from Newport, South Wales; and battle re-enactor Malcolm Beacham, from Woolavington, near Bridgwater, Somerset.

'Heartbreaking news'

Michael Barton, died of chest injuries, Maggie Barton died of neck, chest and abdominal injuries, and Malcolm Beacham died of head injuries.

Post-mortem examinations of three of the victims, Kye Thomas, Terry Brice, Anthony and Pamela Adams, failed to establish a cause of death.

Staff at Samworth Brothers paid tribute to their lorry drivers, Terry Brice and Kye Thomas.

Max Johnson, operations manager, said: "Terry only joined just over six months ago but his friendly and generous nature will be missed by all of us here."

Tara Davis, transport manager, said: "Kye had driven for us for 15 years and was a very well-known and respected member of our team.

"He was a genuine and warm friend to everyone here. We also knew him as a dedicated husband and father.

"The news is heartbreaking and our thoughts are with his wife Becki, their four children, family and friends."

Speaking outside the inquest, Det Supt Mike Courtiour, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: "Since this heartbreaking event occurred we have been working non-stop to establish what happened and those investigations are still very much ongoing.

"We have received a huge number of calls and messages from members of the public and I am very grateful for this.

"This has raised nearly 200 actions for us to follow up.

"We are working hard to speak with everyone as quickly as possible, however we need to do so sensitively because some have been injured and understandably are deeply distressed and upset by what they saw.

"Therefore you will understand that this is likely to take some time."

The public will not be able to attend a vigil being held on Friday at Sainsbury's car park in Hankridge, near the crash site, as originally planned.

Police expressed concerns about the number of people who might attend, but space is being set aside at the car park for public tributes to be laid from Saturday.

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