Families pay tribute to indie band and manager who died in Sweden canal plunge

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

The four members of Viola Beach and manager Craig Tarry were killed after their vehicle crashed just hours after they had played their first gig outside the UK.

Tributes were paid to the group - whose members were Kris Leonard, River Reeves, Tomas Lowe and Jack Dakin - and Mr Tarry following the accident in Sodertalje, 18 miles from the capital Stockholm, in the early hours of Saturday.

The family of Mr Reeves, 19, said they were "heartbroken" by his death alongside his band-mates and the manager "he adored".

In a statement, they said: "Viola Beach were on such an exciting journey and River could not have been happier. He would have loved to have stuck around for the party.

"All River wanted to do was perform and entertain and to think that he will never make us laugh again with his ridiculous impressions and cheeky banter is beyond comprehension for all his family."

Mr Reeves had "such talent and such humility, such charm and such innocence it seems so unfair that he can be taken so cruelly from us like this", his family said.

"We are so proud of him, not only for what he achieved in his short, beautiful life, but also what he was clearly destined to achieve," they added.

Mr Tarry's family said they were "devastated" and "grieving the loss of their son and also for the other families involved in this tragic accident".

Tributes poured in from the music world for the band, from Warrington, Cheshire, who had played the Where Is The Music? festival in Norrkoping, Sweden.

A musician who played at the gig said there had been "a lot of snow" that day and Mr Tarry had not been drinking at the event because he was driving.

John Olsson, from Swedish band Psykofant, told the Press Association: ''We shared a dressing room. They were fantastic people to be around. Very happy and chirpy. 

"With their charming British accents, they were like The Beatles in A Hard Day's Night. I was standing in the audience thinking I will be able to say I hung around with Viola Beach before they made it big.''

Swedish police said they were called to the incident at about 2.30am and divers 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 to allow boats to pass underneath, leaving a gap that the Nissan Qashqai drove into, police said.

A barrier, 50 metres before the opening, has flashing lights and warning signs, 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.'

''The witnesses just saw a car beside them and kind of disappear.''

Viola Beach described themselves as an ''indie pop'' band, with Mr Leonard on guitar and vocals, Mr Reeves on guitar, Mr Lowe on bass and Mr Dakin on drums.

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

The band, who previously toured with The Courteeners, were just weeks away from playing a homecoming gig at Warrington's Pyramid on March 12. They had also announced plans to play their biggest home town show at the Parr Hall on October 1.

The group had been scheduled to play at the Boileroom in Guildford, Surrey, on Saturday but the event was cancelled following the tragedy. Posting on Instagram, the venue said it was "saddened and devastated" to learn of the fatal crash.

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."

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 rallied on Twitter to arrange a round of applause during the fifth minute of the Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur Premier League match.

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