A coroner has told an inquest into the death of all four members of indie pop band Viola Beach and their manager that the cause of the crash may never be explained. No drugs or alcohol were found in the system of manager Craig Tarry who was at the wheel when the crash happened following the band's first-ever foreign gig in Sweden on 13th February 2016.
The band — River Reeves, Kristian Leonard, Tomas Lowe and Jack Dakin— were driving back to their airport hotel from the "Where's The Music?" festival in Norrkoping when the crash happened in Södertälje near Stockholm at about 2am. A bridge was raised above a canal to let a ship pass through, and its flashing lights should have warned the car to stop.
Instead, CCTV footage showed Tarry driving past stationary traffic. He smashed through a barrier and drove another 90 metres in a controlled manner at 70-90kmh (43-55mph) before smashing through another barrier 30 metres from the water. The rented black Nissan Qashqai smashed into the rising bridge before falling 25 metres to the water, where it sank to the bottom.
Four of the men died of head injuries sustained in the crash, the fifth — Tomas Lowe — died from drowning. Inspections found no faults with the car or the warning systems at the bridge and on the night in question the road was wet but not icy.
Supt Martin Cleworth, from Cheshire Police, said: "We don't know the final answer. .. in terms of what actually happened at those moments just prior to the final collision and tragic descent into the water."
Supt Cleworth continued: "We have given a commitment to continue to work with the coroner and the families to try and seek to understand some other issues that came from the inquest. Those questions are unlikely to actually ever get to that fundamental fact as to what went on in the seconds leading to the tragic collision."
The inquest at Cheshire Coroner's Court was attended by relatives and friends of the five men. Cheshire coroner Nicholas Rheinberg told them: "The events we have been hearing about reveal the most awful tragedy for all of you. I'm very sorry you have suffered this terrible loss."
Following the tragedy the band's debut single topped the iTunes chart. Coldplay played the band's song Boys That Sing at Glastonbury in tribute.
Following the inquest, in a joint statement published by The Telegraph the band's relatives said: "We are tremendously proud of everything the boys achieved in such a short space of time. Craig, Jack, Kris, River and Tom shared a huge passion, talent and dedication to music."