FOUR members of British indie band Viola Beach and their manager have died when their car plunged into a canal in Sweden.
The Foreign Office has confirmed that five British nationals died in the accident on Saturday, and are in contact with their families, while tributes have been paid to the five on social media.
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.
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, plunging more than 80ft into the canal below.
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.
British band The Enemy wrote: “RIP Viola Beach and their manager. Such incredibly tragic and sad news. Thought with the friends and families of all involved x.”
James Skelly from The Coral wrote: “So sorry to hear about viola beach and Craig tarry’s accident. So sad, their families must be devastated.”
Ross Jarman, from Wakefield band The Cribs, said his “heart goes out to the Viola Beach guys and their families”.
The up-and-coming band were on tour and due to play a string of dates at venues across the UK. They were scheduled to play at the Boiler Room in Guildford on Saturday but the gig was cancelled.
The group had been included in the line up for this year’s Live at Leeds festival in April.
Live at Leeds posted on Facebook: “We are absolutely devastated to hear the news about Viola Beach and their manager this morning. Our thoughts and love are with everyone affected by this tragedy.
Dates were also planned for The Welly Club, Hull, later this month, and Opium No. 10 in Barnsley in March.
The four piece band released their debut single Swings & Waterslides last year.
The Brudenell Social Club in Leeds, where the band had played previously, posted on Facebook: “Devastating news about the tragedy of Viola Beach.
“It’s difficult to write something meaningful, there’s not really any words that can express the shock and sadness that surrounds something like this.
“The lads played here at the Brudenell a few times, and it was always a pleasure.... an absolutely lovely great bunch of people.”
Swedish police said divers recovered the bodies of the crash victims - who were all men - after the vehicle plunged more than 25m (82ft) from a highway bridge into the canal.
The Nissan Qashqai the group were travelling in crashed through the barrier and into the canal after the bridge had opened to let a boat pass underneath, Swedish police said.
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 car 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.”
Drivers of other cars were waiting behind the barrier but it is not yet known whether a boat had already passed or was waiting to pass.
He added: “The witnesses just saw a car beside them and kind of disappear.”
Mr Bergholm said it was not yet known whether the five men, aged 20-35, were wearing seatbelts but added: “That would not have helped them.”
Police received a call at about 2.30am and were first to arrive on the scene, a “maximum five minutes” later.
Mr Bergholm said: “Police arrived first, then the fire brigade who came with fire brigade divers at the scene and found the car and three bodies.
“We didn’t know how many people there were in the car but we found out there were five. Later on, about an hour later, the police divers came and found two more bodies.”
The men were all identified using their 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.
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”.
In a statement, the family of Mr Reeves, 19, said: “We are all heartbroken following River’s tragic death and the circumstances which have seen him lose his life alongside the band-mates and manager he adored and loved being with.
“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 Tarry 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.
The Hollywood branch of the Manchester City Supporters Club said: “We are devastated at the loss of blue Craig Tarry in the accident.”
A statement issued by his family confirmed he, along with the four band members, had died in the crash.
It said: “The family are devastated by these events and are grieving the loss of their son and also for the other families involved in this tragic accident.
“Craig was a warm, loving person who had worked tirelessly to achieve success and follow his dreams within the music industry. He will be sadly missed by his family and his colleagues.”
Radio One DJ Huw Stephens posted: “So sorry to hear the news about Viola Beach and their manager. The saddest news. Thinking of all their families at this awful time.”
Theresa Griffin, Labour MEP for the North West of England, wrote: “Tragic news - so bright local music talent taken so young thoughts & prayers with families & friends #violabeach,”
Model and former Strictly Come Dancing winner Abbey Clancy added it was “such tragic news”.
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.”
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.”
Viola Beach, 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.