Grieving classmates remember ‘the five wonderful people’ who died in Conisbrough crash

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THE head of the South Yorkshire school attended by five teenagers who died in a horrific car crash has said “to not have them here is devastating”.

Friends of Blake Cairns, 16, Arpad Kore, 18, Jordanna Goodwin, 16, Megan Storey, 16, and Bartosz Bortniczak, 18 - who died in the two-car collision on Saturday - were in tears and comforted each other today as they laid scores of floral tributes outside Danum Academy in Doncaster.

Floral tributes outside Danum Academy in Doncaster for the five teenagers who died in a two-car collision on Saturday.

Floral tributes outside Danum Academy in Doncaster for the five teenagers who died in a two-car collision on Saturday.

Four of the five were students in Danum’s sixth form and Mr Bortniczak was a former pupil.

Headteacher Rebecca Staples said the school community, who gathered today for special assemblies, is trying to cope “step by very small steps”.

She said: “We can’t plan for the future, we can only plan for tomorrow. And we will do it one step at a time as we go through this together.”

Ms Staples was speaking in front of a bank of hundreds of floral tributes which have been placed outside the school’s sixth-form block since the crash near Conisbrough, about five miles away (8km).

Floral tributes outside Danum Academy in Doncaster for the five teenagers who died in a two-car collision on Saturday.

Floral tributes outside Danum Academy in Doncaster for the five teenagers who died in a two-car collision on Saturday.

The five friends who died were all in a blue Toyota Corolla which was in collision with a grey Seat Leon on the A630 just outside Conisbrough, near Doncaster, at about 9.40pm on Saturday.

Blake Cairns is the younger brother of Leeds United’s goalkeeper Alex Cairns. Fans of the club were among those leaving tributes on Twitter today.

The crash happened about 100 yards (100m) from the scene of another in 2011 in which three teenagers were killed.

Ms Staples said today’s assemblies involved her talking to the students and staff sharing memories of those who had died.

She said: “We’ve had special assemblies for many of the students this morning, special form times for other students this morning, for children to have an opportunity to share their grief with each other.

“You’ll see the flowers that are arriving and have kept arriving.

“Our books of condolences have been written in, candles have been lit.

“We’re doing everything we can to support the children. We have trained counsellors and priests supporting children and staff in any way they need.”

Asked how the school is coping, the head said: “I don’t know if you cope or not, you just get through it.

“And people look after each other. This is a very close-knit community and people are supporting each other, caring for each other and that’s right across staff and students and parents.”

Ms Staples said: “These five students were wonderful, lively young people. They were the very best of young people. They were flourishing in our sixth-form, they were happy people.

“They were the sorts of students other students looked up to. They were well-known. They were the sort of students that you noticed around the building, said good morning to every day. And to not have them here is devastating.”

Grieving classmates gathered to lay flowers this morning.

“It just really overwhelming. I just can’t believe it,” sixth-former Kate Speakman said.

“It’s just really difficult to say goodbye to them, so quickly.”

Asked about the assembly this morning, she said: “It was horrific. I’m just so proud that I go to a school where they do this and they make sure that everyone’s OK. They’re really trying their best to support everyone.”

And asked about her friend - school prom queen Jordanna - she said: “She was amazing. She was really pretty and she was just so talented and it’s just not fair.”

Another sixth-former, Lucy Turton, said: “Even the teachers are devastated, as you can imagine.

“It’s just so hard on everyone, even those who didn’t know them that well. Everyone’s just devastated.”

South Yorkshire Police believe a third car - a black Vauxhall Corsa - may also have been involved in Saturday’s incident.

A 21-year-old Doncaster man, who was driving the Corsa, was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and later released on bail while police continue their investigation.

Officers believe the five teenagers in the Toyota had earlier met up with the Corsa driver at a McDonald’s restaurant in Doncaster.

Both vehicles were heading away from Doncaster at the time of the crash but the Corsa was not involved in the collision.

The school has paid tribute to each of those who died, including Mr Bortniczak, who left the school and is understood to have been working.

Blake Cairns has been described as very sporty, a fixture of school football team and “a cheeky boy who had great relationships with staff”.

Jordanna Goodwin never missed a single day of school from primary to the end of Year 11 and was the prom queen.

Arpad Kore was described as a “true gentleman who looked out for everybody” and who had “a tremendous sense of humour”.

Megan Storey was a “very caring, mature young woman who was a joy to be with”.

And Bartek Bortniczak was described as “a fun-loving young man, with a lovely character and a real sense of fun”.

Yesterday, Inspector Pete Serhatlic, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “It was absolutely horrific. There’s no other words to describe it.”

In January 2011, three teenagers aged 14, 15, and 16, died after the car they were in hit a tree and was torn apart just a short distance from the site of this weekend’s crash.

Faded memorials from that tragedy are still visible on a nearby tree.

But Mr Serhatlic said the stretch of road was not seen as a regular accident blackspot despite the two multiple fatal crashes.

He said the driver of the Seat suffered a broken leg.

Some bereaved family members visited the scene of the tragedy this afternoon.

Police officers accompanied a group of people as they inspected the row of floral tributes that have been placed against a fence by the road.

The uniformed officer escorting them appeared to be discussing the crash with them and pointing out important features at the scene.

A steady stream of young people continued to arrive at the scene throughout the day to lay flowers and look at the other tributes.