Double rail tragedy: Natasha's mum dies

Overwhelming sorrow consumed tragic teenager Natasha Coombs' family today after her mother was killed at the spot where her daughter died.Joanne Coombs' body was discovered near Manningtree station after she was also struck by a train.The double tragedy comes just over a week after family and close friends went ahead with a posthumous 18th birthday party for Natasha, a former East Bergholt High School pupil.

DOUBLE tragedy consumed the family of Natasha Coombs today as her mother's body was discovered at the spot where the teenager was killed.

Mrs Coombs, 40, died after being struck by a train near Manningtree station last night on the same stretch of railway line where her daughter was found last month.

Natasha's body was found on August 10 after two weeks of frantic searching following her disappearance. The 17-year-old was returning from a night out with friends in Ipswich on July 27 when she went missing.

Today, a neighbour of the Coombs', whose home is in Fronks Road, Dovercourt, said everyone's thoughts were with Mrs Coombs' husband, Gary.

The neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: “You can try to equate to losing a child, but how must that man feel having lost a child and a wife. It's inconceivable really.”

It would have been Natasha's 18th birthday earlier this month and Mrs Coombs and her husband went ahead with a birthday party for family and their daughter's closest friends, despite their loss.

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Mrs Coombs death comes ten days after the celebration. She was known to be particularly close to Natasha. Mr Coombs previously described his wife as their daughter's “best friend” and said: “They shared everything together.

A friend of Natasha's, Chloe Merrigan, 17, of East Bergholt, said Natasha's mum had been planning the emotional garden party event - believed to have been held on Saturday September 8 - for weeks.

Up to 50 of Natasha's friends were invited to the celebration of her life at the Coombs' family home.

During the event they were given keepsakes to remember their pal.

Ms Merrigan said: “She [Joanne] gave out the invitations. A lot of planning went into the party.

“During the party they gave out things that belonged to Natasha like bits of her jewellery, broaches and rings - things that she wore that meant something to her.

“Her parents wanted her friends to have keepsakes of her so they would always remember her.”

Ms Merrigan said she was shocked on learning that Mrs Coombs was found dead little more than a week later.

She said: “It's horrible. I can't quite believe it. Everyone will be thinking about Natasha's father. Their main concern will be how he is feeling.”

Although formal identification was due to take place today, the authorities believe the body is that of Mrs Coombs, who had previously lived in Brantham with her family.

The latest tragedy occurred when the driver of yesterday's 7pm train from Liverpool Street to Norwich reported he had felt a bump as the train approached Manningtree station from the Colchester side around 8pm.

It was dark at the time and the driver did not see anything, but reported the bump straight away.

Mrs Coombs' body was discovered by a freight train driver as he passed the spot shortly afterwards. The line was closed for about two hours while the line was searched for evidence.

Passengers were taken by bus between Ipswich and Colchester. The line reopened late last night.

Although there were minor delays at the start of the rush hour today, they were not a result of last night's tragedy.

Acting inspector Bob Munn, of the British Transport police, said: “Shortly before 8.30pm yesterday, the driver of the 7pm Liverpool Street to Norwich service reported a possible track fault.

“When the line was checked by the driver of a following freight train he found the body of a woman near Manningtree station on the Norwich-bound line.

“We can confirm that this is the same location where the body of 17-year-old Natasha Coombs was found on August 10.

“It is believed the woman who died last night was struck and killed by the train which reported the track fault. This incident is not being treated as suspicious.”

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