Rock group Viola Beach and manager killed in Sweden car canal plunge


A British rock band and their manager have died after the car they were travelling in plunged more than 80ft into a canal in Sweden.

The five men, aged between 20 and 35, were killed after their vehicle went through the barrier of a bridge which had opened to let a boat pass underneath.

Viola Beach - whose members were Kris Leonard, River Reeves, Tomas Lowe and Jack Dakin - and their manager Craig Tarry died in the incident in Sodertalje, 18 miles from the capital Stockholm on Saturday.

Tributes from the world of music were paid to the group, from Warrington, Cheshire, who had played the Swedish music festival Where is the Music? on Friday.

The four-piece released their debut single Swings & Waterslides last year and had featured on BBC Introducing, which showcases up-and-coming music artists.

They were due to play a gig in Guildford in Surrey on Saturday but the event was cancelled following the tragedy.

British band The Enemy wrote on social media: "RIP Viola Beach and their manager. Such incredibly tragic and sad news. Thought with the friends and families of all involved x."

James Walsh, lead singer of Starsailor, said: "Very sad to hear the awful news about Warrington's Viola Beach and their manager. Lives and music tragically cut short in their prime."

Ross Jarman, from The Cribs, said his "heart goes out to the Viola Beach guys and their families" while the Coral's James Skelly posted: "So sorry to hear about viola beach and Craig tarry's accident so sad, their families must be devastated."

Radio One DJ Huw Stephens added: "So sorry to hear the news about Viola Beach and their manager. The saddest news. Thinking of all their families at this awful time."

Swedish police said they were called to the incident at about 2.30am and divers had recovered the bodies of the victims.

The bridge, at the Saltskogs junction between the E4 and the E20 motorways, has a middle section that rises directly upwards without tilting, leaving a gap that the Nissan Qashqai drove into.

A barrier, 50m before the opening, has flashing lights and signs warning there is a bridge opening, the officer handling the case said.

Inspector Martin Bergholm said: "For some reason, the car drove through the barriers and crashed down into the canal."

Other drivers were waiting behind the barrier but it is not yet known whether a boat had already passed or was waiting to pass.

Mr Bergholm added: "The witnesses just saw a car beside them and kind of disappear."

The men were identified using the passports they had on them and Swedish police are working with the Foreign Office global response centre.

He said the case would be transferred to a specialist traffic incident team on Monday. Dates for the post-mortem examination have not yet been confirmed.

Viola Beach were scheduled to play at the Boiler Room in Guildford on Saturday. Posting on Instagram, the venue said it was "saddened and devastated" to learn of the fatal crash.

Tributes were also paid to Mr Tarry, who was described as a "man of unshakable (sic) optimism" and a passionate Manchester City football club fan.

Club fans were rallying on Twitter to arrange a round of applause during the fifth minute of the Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur Premier League match, due to kick off later in Manchester.

Callum Bate, described on his Twitter profile as an engineer for the band, said: "The boys from Viola Beach were the most hardworking and honest bunch of lads. So honoured to work with them for the past months. RIP boys X."

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that five British nationals died in a car accident in Sweden on February 13.

"We are in contact with local authorities and supporting the families at this very difficult time".