Families pay tribute to victims of Croydon tram crash ahead of inquest

·5 min read

The families of the seven people killed in the Croydon tram crash have paid tribute to their loved ones ahead of the first day of evidence at the inquest into their deaths.

Dane Chinnery, 19, Philip Seary, 57, Dorota Rynkiewicz, 35, Robert Huxley, 63, Philip Logan, 52, all from New Addington, all lost their lives in the accident on November 9 2016.

Mark Smith, 35 and Donald Collett, 62, both from Croydon, were also killed, while a further 51 were injured.

The 14-week inquest was initially due to begin in October 2020, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The inquest heard that Mr Chinnery, who worked for wet waste firm Hydro Cleansing, had been a huge Crystal Palace fan, and also loved classic cars.

His mother Beverley Gray said in a statement he had also been a big fan of the band Madness, and that the band sent cards and flowers when they heard of his death.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him and what he would have become.

“I wonder what he would look like and if he would have changed much?” Ms Gray said.

“He was a handsome lad with an infectious laugh.

“He was always laughing, always telling jokes.”

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The scene near the tram crash in Croydon in November 2016 (Charlotte Ball/PA)

Tracy Angelo, Mr Collett’s daughter, said her father had always lived in south London and worked on many of the skyscrapers in Canary Wharf.

“There were many funny stories that came out of those days, which my sister and I could listen to for hours,” she said.

Ms Angelo added: “One of the things he would always say to us if we called him of an evening with a worry or a problem; he would tell us to sleep on it and things would always look better in the morning,” she said.

“Unfortunately though, this piece of advice has not been something that I can say is true since November 9 2016, things have not looked better in the morning for any of us without dad’s smiling face in our world.”

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The tram in the days after the accident (RAIB/PA)

On Tuesday, Robert Huxley’s son Ross told the inquest his father had been “loyal, dependable and totally committed” to his family.

The football-mad father-of-two, of New Addington, started his career as an electrician at the age of 15 alongside his twin brother, and had a career spanning 40 years.

“Bob was always there for those who needed him and was a very generous man, not just with material things but with the most precious gift of his time,” Ross Huxley said.

Marilyn Logan, widow of Mr Logan, told the inquest she and her husband had been together for 32 years, and had grown up together in the Croydon and Thornton Heath area.

In a statement read by the couple’s granddaughter Danielle, she said Mr Logan, a bricklayer and builder, had been a loving stepfather to her four children and had been obsessed with being outdoors and home improvements.

“Phil was a very energetic man, and he wasn’t happy unless he was doing something,” she said.

Mrs Logan added: “In a way I am still in denial about the loss of my husband. All of my family were badly affected by the loss of a great husband and a very kind man.”

Mother-of-two Ms Rynkiewicz had been on her way to her job at Millies Cookies at Victoria Station when she was killed.

A trained accountant, she and her husband Andrzej met at university and married on Christmas Day 2005 before moving to the UK.

In a statement, Mr Rynkiewicz told the inquest that their daughters had been just seven and five when she died.

“(Dorota) juggled being a mother with her aspirations to continue progressing in her career.

“As well as working hard she was a wonderful mother to our girls.”

He added: “Having to tell them about the crash was awful.

“Not a day goes by when the girls and I don’t miss her terribly.”

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Philip Seary’s wife Ann paid tribute to him as ‘funny, silly and just a little bit dopey’ (Seary family/PA)

Mr Seary’s widow Ann described her husband as “a kind, extremely hard working and much loved and caring person”.

She added: “He was extremely likeable and had an impact on everyone he met, I do not think I will ever come to terms with how cruelly he was taken from us.”

Mrs Seary said she and her husband, an electrical engineer at the Royal Opera House, had met on a blind date set up by a friend and he had become a devoted step father to her three daughters.

She added: “He was funny, silly and just a little bit dopey which made him all the more loveable.

“Phil was also warm, lovable, kind, generous, easy to talk to and truly one of the good guys with a heart of gold that really would do anything for anyone.”

Mark Smith’s mother Jean told the inquest her son, a specialist glass installer, had been on his way to work at a site in St James Park on the day of the crash.

She described the father-of-one, who was engaged to be married at the time of his death, as “a dedicated, reliable, responsible, respectful, honest and trustworthy young man”.

Mrs Smith said her grandson had been just 18 months old at the time of her son’s death, “too young to remember his father”.

She said he had been passionate about cars and loved to compete at motor shows, as well as his own fishing blog.

“No matter their race or background everyone liked Mark,” Mrs Smith said.

“He was a good talker, a good listener and a good mediator.

“He was a warm person with a ready smile and a unique laugh.”

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