The driver, Cyriac Joseph, who owned the minibus company, was killed in the collision taking an Indian family to the Eurostar to begin their dream holiday
The taxi driver who was killed alongside seven others in the deadliest motorway crash in 24 years was taking a visiting Indian family to start their dream European holiday after a ‘drunk lorry smashed into their minibus’.
The group of eleven were on their way to the Eurostar when their minibus was ‘squashed flat’ in a crash with two delivery trucks on the M1 at Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire.
Six men and two women died at the scene including the driver while three others – including a five-year-old girl who was pulled from the wreckage – are fighting for their lives in hospital.
A 31-year-old lorry driver from Worcestershire was arrested on suspicion of drink driving and causing death by dangerous driving. A second lorry driver, a 52-year-old man from Stoke-on-Trent.
Last night the minicab driver was named as Cyriac Joseph, who’s minibus contained a family of five, along with several other people believed to be working for Capita, who were on their way to the Eurostar.
Eye-witness Brett Smith, 36, who stopped the taxi he was travelling to help described it as the worst sight he had ever seen.
Close friend of Cyriac, Manu Zachariah said: ‘He was taking people working at Capita from Nottingham to the EuroStar for their holidays in Europe. There was a family of five in the group as well as a child.
‘I think there were 12 people in the van in total. Benny died instantly.
‘He was my best friend and always there when you needed him. He was a good singer and a sports enthusiast. He loved volleyball.’
‘He encouraged everyone to write out own magazine and even start our own radio programme for a time.’
Devastated friends and family gathered at the home of the father-of-two in Nottingham last night to pay their respects.
Over 20 people came together on the driveway of his detached home to comfort each other after the 52-year-old died in the horrific incident on the M1 near Milton Keynes.
Cyriac, known to friends as ‘Benny’, was originally from the south-western state of Kerala in India.
Close friend Tessy Shaji, 52, had known him since he arrived in the UK 15 years ago and has worked with his wife Ansy as a nurse in the Queens Medical Centre for the past 10 years.
She said: ‘He was a perfect friend and always there for you. He was always smiling and could very easily make you laugh.
‘He arrived from India 15 years ago with very little, and started out working in supermarkets.
Police say they are in touch with families living abroad. Chief Inspector Henry Parsons from the Joint Operations Unit for Roads Policing, said: ‘Our thoughts are very much with the families of those involved in this morning’s collision, and we are currently working to locate and inform their next of kin.’
A passerby who stopped his taxi to help passengers in the stricken minibus on the M1 has described the scene as a ‘warzone’.
ADHD charity advocate Brett Smith, 36, from Milton Keynes, said the minibus was ‘filled with blood’ when he reached it, and spoke of his horror as he held a girl’s hand to comfort her.
The father-of-two, who himself has been involved in two horror smashes as a child, jumped in to help as he said ‘it’s what any parent would do’.
Mr Smith said: ‘I could see everything. It was not pretty – it was a war zone. I was on my way home from an evening with my friends and I was in a taxi. We came across the incident and instinctively I said ‘stop’ so I could jump out and offer help.
Six men and two women have been killed in the M1 collision in Newport Pagnell and one man, one woman and a five-year-old girl are in hospital with life-threatening injuries, Thames Valley Police have said. The remains of the minibus, which is in two pieces, are pictured being removed from scene on the M1 motorway
Some of those on board the minibus were visiting the UK from India and Thames Valley Police said this evening it’s possible all eight people who were killed were from the same family
Eight people have died after a minibus, pictured above, was ‘squashed flat’ after a crash with two lorries on the M1 today
He said: ‘There was no emergency services there at the time. I rushed across to provide help and realised there was a little girl trapped inside.
‘I heard her crying. She was probably only three-years-old, and she was the only child I could hear and talk to. I could see her face to face. I still see her now when I close my eyes.
‘I think [the family] were from the same culture and trying to communicate with her. She was just traumatised.
‘I promised the girl a McDonalds when the fire service turned up. They put some goggles on me and put boards up to protect me and the child.’
Mr Smith added: ‘When they got the main part of the minibus cut away the firefighters took over and thanked me. I remember the fire service were going to give me a can of coke to help deal with the shock. I’m still shaking now.
‘I requested a high vis jacket as I was also feeling cold. But I was mainly thinking about the girl. The police were trying to take my details but I wanted to make sure the child was okay.
‘I was told by the fire crew who assisted that the girl was fine and alive and well.
‘I didn’t get her name – I’m completely in the dark. I really feel for the family. There were so many members in one vehicle.’
ADHD charity advocate Brett Smith, 36, from Milton Keynes, said the minibus was ‘filled with blood’ when he reached it, and spoke of his horror as he held a girl’s hand to comfort her. Pictured right, Mr Smith showing his injuries
Bank Holiday horror: The smashed up cab of the FedEx lorry involved in a fatal crash being towed away from the scene as four others remain in hospital
Brett Smith earlier said he gave the little girl his jacket to keep her warm and described the upsetting scene.
He said: ‘A family has been destroyed. I held a little girl by her arms, trapped inside a vehicle, for a good hour or so with the emergency services and the fire service trying to help.
‘I walked home with a blanket that the ambulance service provided me to stay warm because the little girl has got my jacket to keep herself safe. The fire and ambulances services did a really good job.’
Mr Smith posted a Facebook Live video from the scene of the crash discussing how he tried to helped the crash victim. He also wrote on social media how he was ‘overwhelmed with emotion but must carry on’.
Police confirmed the little girl was now fighting for her life in hospital as they hold two men in custody for questioning.
The fatal crash was the deadliest pile-up since 1993, when 12 schoolchildren and their teacher died in a minibus accident on the M40.
A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said earlier: ‘A 31-year-old man from Worcestershire has been arrested on suspicion of one count of causing death by dangerous driving and one count of driving a motor vehicle when alcohol level above limit.
Pictured: Visible skid marks can be seen in the left-hand lane while the churned up verge shows where vehicles collided with the bank
Tailbacks: Hundreds of people were stuck in tailbacks for 18 miles of congestion between Newton Pagnell and Northampton Services
‘Also a 53-year-old from Stoke-on-Trent arrested on suspicion of one count of causing death by dangerous driving. They are both currently in custody.’
‘All of the deceased were travelling in the minibus. The four taken to hospital were also travelling in the minibus of whom one is a child,’ added Thames Valley police, saying that the vehicle was believed to have travelled from the Nottingham area.
The minibus had been hired by an Indian family travelling from Hyson Green in Nottingham to Wembley in North-West London. From there, the 11 passengers were due to go on a coach journey around Europe, according to friends.
Some of the victims worked in Nottingham for an IT firm, while the rest were relatives visiting from the Indian city of Madras.
Their driver, Cyriac Joseph, who owned the minibus company, was also killed in the collision.
Last night, a close family friend of Mr Joseph, known as Benny, said he had moved to the UK from Kerala in India five years ago with his wife Ancy and their two children. The 52-year-old had worked for Asda before starting his minicab business, ABC Travels.
He bought the 16-seater minibus around four years ago and became a self-employed businessman. His cousin Soyamon Joseph, 49, said Mr Joseph had enjoyed dinner at his house on Friday night.
He added: ‘That was the last supper he had. I knew he had this very early job so he slept at my house from 10pm until 1am. He had a group of 11 to pick up at 1.30am from Hyson Green in Nottingham. Benny’s wife was working a night shift at the hospital where she is a nurse. She tried to ring him when she got home but there was no reply. She rang me and I told her everything would be OK. Then the police rang her and said there had been an accident. It is so tragic. Benny was my best friend.
‘He had worked so hard to send his daughter Benita to a girls’ grammar school where she had just got ten A-stars and two As in her GCSEs. He was so proud.
‘He had a flight booked back to India on September 3 as he was building a house there and the foundation stone was about to be laid.’
One neighbour added: ‘It’s so, so sad. He’s a kind and generous man. If I needed to get somewhere and he wasn’t working he’d offer his help. I’ve lived next door to them most of my life and the whole family are lovely.’
A neighbour has described how the family of Mr Joseph gathered at his home to grieve this morning.
Fighting back tears, Majid Adam, 53, a cleaner at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, said: ‘I saw lots of family members and friends around the house at about 10am. They looked really upset, and were crying.
‘I asked what had happened and they told me there had been a terrible accident. I saw his wife being surrounded by a crowd of people. She looked extremely upset.
‘I have lived here for 10 years and always known him as a taxi driver. I had only seen him with that minibus for a year. I don’t think he has had it long.
‘He was such a happy and smiling man. His whole family are lovely. It’s extremely upsetting what has happened. I feel for him and his family.’
Pictured: The scene of the tragedy this afternoon after the two lorries and minibus were removed from the carriageway
Pictured: Service workers at the scene today cleaning the motorway before reopening it to the public following the crash
Pictured: Aerial footage from Sky News shows a large red stain across the motorway as recovery work is underway
The minibus was virtually flattened with skid marks visible across the left-hand lane. The cabs of both the lorries were smashed up.
The vehicles were travelling in the same direction when the crash happened, police said.
A FedEx lorry with its cab crushed and the cab of an AIM Logistics lorry twisted around to the side. Another image shows what appears to be the crumpled wreckage of the minibus on the back of a flatbed truck.
Broken glass and debris from the collision was scattered across the tarmac.
The vehicles were seen being lifted off the carriageway this afternoon.
Ismail Elmagdoub, director of AIM Logistics, said: ‘One of our vehicles was involved in a serious incident on the M1 southbound, junction 14 this morning at approximately 3am. We would like to express our deepest sympathy to the families who have lost loved ones and also those whom have been injured at this very sad time.
‘Road safety and compliance is of the utmost importance to AIM Logistics and we are continuing to assist the police as much as possible with their inquiries.’
A witness told MailOnline: ‘It’s horrific. There is what looks like the remains of the back end of the minibus trapped beneath the FedEx trailer, totally wrecked.
‘I don’t see how anyone could have survived that. There’s wreckage along the grass verge and the third lorry is just past the junction.
Pictured: Hundreds are stuck in congested traffic on the M1 northbound after two lorries and a minibus collided just after 3.15am
He said: ‘It looks like the trailer has become detached as it is at right angles to the cab. There are two big rescues vehicles at the scene using cranes. The road is closed to the previous junction.’
Ollie Miller, who witnessed the aftermath of the crash, said: ‘It looked horrible, the two lorries were badly smashed and I could see a vehicle underneath one of the lorries. It was totally destroyed. The minibus was basically flat.
‘I feel sorry for all those affected.’
Gayle Smith, who drove past the accident, commented on social media: ‘We have just passed this accident, travelling on the Northbound carriageway. The accident looked awful. Thoughts and prayers going out to all victims. Our emergency services doing an amazing job!’
Valerie Selby also said the crash was the ‘worst she had ever seen’.
She said: ‘If you’re on the M1 southbound Northampton or heading that way – chose an alternative route ASAP & be patient, the accident that has shut the motorway is the most horrific I have ever seen & I imagine road will be shut all day.’
Tarpaulin was placed over the scene of the tragedy today while police officers carried out their investigations.
Chief Inspector Henry Parsons from TVP’s joint operations unit for roads policing, said: ‘The scene facing the officers who attended was complex and the recovery operation which followed was challenging. Tragically eight people lost their lives, with four further people seriously injured, and it is our duty to establish the circumstances of what happened.
‘Officers are working to inform the next of kin of the people who died and specially-trained family liaison officers will be offering them their support. Some of those involved were visiting the UK from India and we are working to keep families abroad informed.
‘This collision was deeply distressing for the members of the public who witnessed it, along with the emergency service workers who attended and displayed high levels of professionalism.’
Gayle Smith, who drove past the accident, commented on social media: ‘We have just passed this accident, travelling on the Northbound carriageway. The accident looked awful. Thoughts and prayers going out to all victims’
Avoid the area: Police asked those planning on travelling on the M1 to avoid the motorway and use alternative routes (pictured above, the lorries being removed)
Pictured: The FedEx lorry (right) with its cab twisted into the back of the L M Logstistics truck involved in the crash
A spokesman for the South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) confirmed paramedics were called to the crash at 3.12am today.
He said: ‘Our thoughts are with all those involved in the tragic incident on the M1 this morning and their families.
‘South Central Ambulance Service sent to the scene, five ambulance crews, a doctor, two team leaders and two ambulance officers who worked alongside colleagues from East Midlands and East of England Ambulance Services to assess and treat a number of casualties.
‘Sadly there have been several fatalities. We have treated four patients for serious or life threatening injuries who have been taken to hospitals in Milton Keynes, Coventry and Birmingham.
‘We would like to thank all our SCAS staff and colleagues from across the services who worked hard to respond to this difficult situation.’
A spokesman for Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service said the crash happened between Newport Pagnell services on the M1 and junction 14.
‘One appliance and crew from Broughton, one from Newport Pagnell, one from Great Holm, two from Mereway, one from Woburn, three Urban Search and Rescue vehicles from Aylesbury and three officers – about 35 people in total – attended,’ he said.
‘Thames Valley Police have confirmed several fatalities. Firefighters used hydraulic rescue equipment to release three people, who were taken to hospital with a fourth person.’
The southbound carriageway between J15 and J14 has now been reopened after being closed for ten hours.
Earlier today Chief Inspector Henry Parsons from the Joint Operations Unit for Roads Policing, said: ‘Emergency services are currently on the scene responding to this collision and road closures are in place.
‘We would ask all motorists to please avoid the area, use alternative routes and await further updates before attempting to travel on this route. We appreciate motorists’ patience while we deal with this serious incident.
‘I would appeal to anyone who witnessed the collision and has not yet spoken to officers to please contact us.
‘Anyone who has any information which could assist the investigation should call the 24-hour Thames Valley Police enquiry centre on 101 quoting URN 214 of 26/8.’
There is still heavy congestion near junction 15 at Northampton Services today.
A spokesman for FedEx said: ‘We are aware of the tragic accident that occurred last night on the M1 motorway, junction 14 in the UK with a FedEx truck involved. Our deepest thoughts and concerns are with all of those involved.
‘Safety is of the utmost importance to FedEx, and we are co-operating fully with authorities but have no further information at this time.’
The accident happened just after 3am this morning involving two lorries and a minibus, thought to have been travelling from Nottingham
Two have been arrested after a serious crash on the M1. Pictured above, a motorist caught up in the congestion following the tragedy
Around 4.4million motorists will be travelling on Britain’s roads today, as families travel up and down the country.
And with unprecedented levels of rail repairs with Euston, Waterloo, Charring Cross and Liverpool Street closed, many are left with no choice but to take to the roads.
Northamptonshire Police asked people coming to the British Moto GP at Silverstone today to allow more time for their journey.
The Highways Agency has advised anyone travelling south to exit at junction 15 and take the A508 southbound through Roade and Grafton Regis to the A508/A5/A422 roundabout at Deanshanger.
They can then exit onto the A5 and continue to the A5/A509 Interchange.
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