Young motorway crash victim ‘true fighter with a heart of gold’

A 14-year-old boy who was killed in a motorway pile-up was a “true fighter with a heart of gold”, said his parents.

Joe Cairns, from Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, died in the multi-vehicle crash close to junction three of the M58 westbound at Bickerstaffe, Lancashire, on Tuesday.

M58 crash
Joe Cairns, 14, from Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, was killed in the crash on the M58 (Lancashire Constabulary/PA)

The teenager was travelling in a minibus carrying pupils and staff from Pontville School, a special educational needs school in Ormskirk.

Staff member Anne Kerr, 50, from Southport, also died in the incident involving a HGV and a number of other vehicles at about 9am.

Anne Kerr
Anne Kerr, a member of staff at Pontville School, also died (Lancashire Constabulary/PA)

In a tribute to their son, Steph and Andy Cairns said: “Joe, my brave boy, a true fighter with a heart of gold. An amazing sense of humour and infectious smile, a true superhero.”

The driver of the HGV, a 31-year-old-man from Chorley, was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. He has since been released under investigation pending further inquiries.

A number of other people were seriously injured in the incident and continue to be treated in hospital, said Lancashire Police.

A second collision took place at around 10.10am in the queuing traffic, involving an HGV, a van and two cars.

A woman and two men suffered serious injuries in that crash.

M58 crash
The crash happened on the M58 in Lancashire, between junction four Skelmersdale and junction three Bickerstaffe (Peter Byrne/PA)

Police are continuing to appeal for information about both collisions and would like to receive relevant dashcam footage.

In a tribute to Mrs Kerr issued on Wednesday, her family said: “Anne was much loved by all who knew her. She will be deeply missed by all her friends and family.

“She was a daughter, wife, and mum to two lovely boys. She was a lovely personality to be around. Her death has left us all heartbroken.”

M58 crash
A van crashed into a field in the pile-up on the M58 in Lancashire (Peter Byrne/PA)

In a statement, the school’s headteacher, Justine Sims, said: “Our hearts are filled with sadness as we grieve the tragic loss of Anne Kerr. Anne was a caring member of staff who went out of her way to support the young people at Pontville.

“We have been inundated with condolence wishes from our families and pupils, including those involved in the incident. Our thoughts and sympathies are with Anne’s family.”