Emotional scars of attempted rescue

A FATHER has told how he desperately fought in vain to save the lives of three young children and their mother after their car plunged into a 20ft drainage ditch and landed on its roof.

A FATHER has told how he desperately fought in vain to save the lives of three young children and their mother after their car plunged into a 20ft drainage ditch and landed on its roof.

Cortina Hamilton, 20, and her three young children – Jalin, five, three-year-old Alyssa and Malik, 22 months – died when their Honda Accord collided with another car before landing on its roof in the water-filled dyke, next to the A1101 at Burnt Fen, near Mildenhall, at 6.30pm on Friday.

Rescuers managed to get the children from the car and attempts were made to resuscitate them, but they failed and all three were pronounced dead at the roadside.

Their mother was trapped inside the vehicle and had to be freed by firefighters, but she was also declared dead at the scene.

The occupants of the Vectra involved in the accident – a man who also works at RAF Mildenhall and a woman – escaped just seconds before it burst into flames, suffering minor injuries.

Among the rescuers was Alan Jones, who lives near the crash scene, and he told how he desperately tried to save the three children and their mother.

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Mr Jones said the first he had known of the crash was when he had looked out of his window and saw a ball of flames.

"I drove down there as fast as I could. I knew I couldn't get close to the burning car because of the heat, but I could see two other men in the ditch and scrambled down to the other car," he recalled.

"I waded into the ditch and as I got there, one of the children was passed to me.

"By the time the emergency services arrived we had got two of the children out. They began trying to revive them and we got the third out."

Mr Jones, whose wife Bridget helped slow traffic approaching the scene, said they managed to get all three children out, but their mother was too severely trapped in the car for them to free.

"We were desperate to get her out, but the water was so bitterly cold. We were rushing to try everything we could," he added.

Mr Jones, a father-of-four said the failed rescue attempt had left him feeling empty.

"When it was all over, I just walked down the street crying. They were under there too long for anyone to survive," he added.

Mildenhall's tight-knit military community has united to support the stricken airman whose life has been torn apart by the accident and prayers were said yesterday for Mr Hamilton and his family at church services across East Anglia.

Anyone with information about the accident should contact Pc Bryan Calver, of Suffolk police, on 01284 774152.

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