28 June 2020 12:41
British indie rock group Viola Beach were on the verge of stardom when their lives were cut short by a horror car accident in Sweden. All four members of the group perished along with their manager when the vehicle they were travelling plunged off a bridge into the icy waters of a shipping canal. Viola Beach formed in Warrington in 2013 fronted by singer Kris Leonard alongside guitarist Frankie Coulson bassist Jonny Gibson and drummer Jack Dakin. They underwent a line-up change in 2015 when Coulson and Gibson left the group - opting to focus on their studies at university instead of their music career. They were replaced by River Reeves on guitar and Tomas Lowe on bass.
The new Viola Beach went on to record their first single, Swings & Waterslides, funding the venture themselves and releasing the track on their own music label, Fuller Beans Records. Swings & Waterslides landed a coveted slot on BBC Radio 1's playlist and gained the band a place performing on the BBC Introducing Stage at the 2015 Reading and Leeds Festivals. (Image: PA) By now, the rockers were on their way to stardom, releasing their second single Boys That Sing in January 2016 and scheduling their self-titled debut album for that summer. However, just weeks after the release of the song - tragedy struck during a trip to Sweden. The band were on the road with their manager Craig Tarry, 32, and had just played at a music festival in the country. They were heading back to their hotel in the early hours of February 13, 2016, when they were caught up in a horrific accident. Tarry was behind the wheel of a Nissan Qashqai which drove up to a bridge over a shipping canal, which was being raised to allow a vessel to pass through. The Nissan crashed through a barrier and fell through the gap in the raised bridge, plunging 25 metres into the canal below. An inquest into their deaths, held at Cheshire coroner's court in Warrington, in December 2016, found all five died at around 2am that night. It reported Kris, 20, River, 19, Jack, 19, and Tarry died from head injuries sustained in the crash when the car hit the water while bassist Tomas drowned. During the hearing it emerged the car took just two seconds to fall into the canal, and the results of a post-mortem examination revealed Tarry had no traces of alcohol or illegal drugs in his system at the time of the accident. (Image: Georgia Park) The inquest heard CCTV footage and witness accounts appeared to reveal the band's car overtook queuing traffic to move to the centre of the road, before stopping behind another line of vehicles and then squeezing past them on the hard shoulder to get past. The Nissan is then said to have struck one barrier and continued on through another before hitting the gap in the bridge at an estimated 56 milers per hour. A police officer from the UK force was was sent to Sweden to investigate the accident, and PC Michael Baddeley told the inquest he believed Tarry had control of the vehicle up until it hit the first barrier. (Image: Facebook) He also told the hearing the driver should have had sufficient distance to react and stop the car before crashing into the bridge. After the accident, the car was found upside at the bottom of the canal, and the inquest heard divers sent down to the wreck found Tarry behind the wheel with Kris in the front passenger seat. The bodies of the three other bandmembers were discovered outside of the Nissan having been thrown from the car. The inquest heard they had not been wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash. (Image: Youtube/Reggie London) Coroner Nicholas Rheinberg recorded a verdict of death by road traffic accident. After the tragedy, Swings & Waterslides climbed to number 11 in the official UK chart and briefly held the number one spot on the iTunes chart. Proceeds from the record were donated to the families of those killed in the crash. A tribute concert took place in Warrington in April 2016 featuring the Coral, The Zutons, the Kooks, and Blossoms, who had performed with Viola Beach just days before the accident. In June that year, Coldplay's Chris Martin led a tribute during their set at Glastonbury - covering their song Boys That Sing. Coldplay's tribute will be shown as part of the BBC's classic Glastonbury coverage which airs this weekend in place of the axed 2020 festival. It will air on BBC Two from 11.05pm on Saturday night.