Seatbelts could have saved family

SIX people in a five-seater car, no seatbelts and laden with luggage. Those are the facts at the centre of the horrific crash in which a father and his daughter were killed as they prepared to make their new lives in Suffolk.

SIX people in a five-seater car, no seatbelts and laden with luggage.

Those are the facts at the centre of the horrific crash in which a father and his daughter were killed as they prepared to make their new lives in Suffolk.

Today, as more details of the tragedy surfaced, Chief Inspector Martin Barnes-Smith from Suffolk Police admitted that had the eight-year-old girl and her father been properly strapped in, they would not have suffered the injuries which killed them.

Portuguese nationals Erica Martins Andrade, eight, and Jose Gomes Costa, 30, died in the road accident on the A14 on Monday, which saw the road closed for nine and a half hours.


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Dolls and luggage were strewn across the road, thrown from the car along with the passengers after the collision with a Ford Escort car.

The Ford Escort had hit a deer on the road, before the Peugeot collided with it, ending in tragedy.

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Chf Insp Barnes-Smith said: “We need to test the buckles but we can confirm that five of the six people were thrown out of the car and the driver was the only person that we are more than sure was wearing a seatbelt.

“Had those people been strapped into the car, it was unlikely they would have been thrown out and suffered the injuries they did.

“The seatbelt won't prevent an accident but it will save your life. There are far too many people in Suffolk who are not wearing seatbelts.”

In January alone 230 people were given fixed penalty notices for not wearing a seatbelt. Government figures show that in 2000, 1,423 people in Suffolk were fined for failing to wear a seatbelt. However, by 2004, the latest year available, it had risen to 2,621 - an 84 per cent increase.

In 2006, there were 47 fatalities on roads in Suffolk, up from 36 fatalities in 2005.

Monday's accident, which took place at around 1.30am near to the junction with the A140, claimed the lives of Mr Costa, who lived in Wherstead Road, Ipswich, and his daughter who had only arrived in the country from Portugal on Sunday.

Four other members of the family were injured - including an 18-month-old baby, which was taken to Addenbrooke's Hospital as a precautionary measure. None are thought to have suffered serious injury.

The obligatory rules on wearing seatbelts in Portugal are the same as in the UK.

Jeremy Mauger, one of the doctors called to the scene, said wearing a seatbelt dramatically increased the chances of surviving a road accident.

He added: “The police said that the passengers were ejected from the car and in it is in those circumstances where the really terrible injuries occur.

“There is also the potential for secondary injuries by being hit by other vehicles.”

The Evening Star launched the Light Up, Belt Up, Shut Up campaign to encourage greater safety on the roads.

The campaign called on motorists to switch on their lights, use their seat belts and avoid speaking on mobile phones while driving.

Anyone with information on the crash should call Sgt Ward at Martlesham Roads Policing Unit on 01473 613500.

Do you know the family? Would you like to pay a tribute? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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