Hit-and-run couple were about to start fertility treatment
The young couple killed in an alleged hit-and-run desperately wanted children, friends said yesterday.
Ross and Clare Simons had just been given the go-ahead to start IVF treatment.
Mr Simons, 34, and his 30-year-old wife – who were from Hillfields in Bristol – died when their tandem bicycle was struck by a car in nearby Hanham, South Gloucestershire, on Sunday.
The couple, who had been married for around 18 months and had been together for several years, died at the scene of the crash in Lower Hanham Road.
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Last night, grieving family and friends turned out to pay their respects to a “perfect couple”. About 100 people walked from The Star pub on Hanham Road to the scene of the accident, led by Ross’s father, Edwin, who walked with crutches because of a motorbike accident before Christmas. They hugged and consoled each other and lit tea-lights at the scene, where bouquets of flowers have been laid since the accident.
Ross’s sister, Kelly Woodruff, said: “This vigil is a tribute to Ross and Clare because they are so loved and will be so missed by so many. They were the perfect couple. They loved each other unconditionally – they were absolutely made for each other.”
Family friend Diane Pullin, from Kingswood, Bristol, said she got to know the couple because her son-in-law Darren worked for Mr Simons’ father.
“They are a lovely family, so kind and so helpful,” she said.
“They don’t deserve this. They’d just had news that they were able to have fertility treatment... everything to live for.
“It’s just terrible and it shouldn’t have happened. Two young people with their lives in front of them... snapped away just like that. They were trying for children and they had just been told they could have fertility treatment.
“Everything to live for, they were such a lovely family.
“It’s just so sad. Such a waste of a life.”
Speaking after laying flowers earlier, family friend Steve Camm said: “There were like two peas in a pod. They were never apart. They could never do enough for anybody. They were caring people.”
Fighting back tears, Mr Camm said Mr and Mrs Simons had been married for about 18 months.
“They always did random stuff. You could never stop them from having fun,” he said. “It’s devastating.”
Locals living in the predominately residential street spoke of their shock that such a tragic incident could happen in the area. Andrea Swerley, 28, lives next to where the police cordon was set up.
The beauty therapist said: “We’ve not seen anything like this before. We got home and saw a helicopter in the air overhead and, looking up the road, which they were just closing, we could see lots of police.
“It’s just a shock, nothing like this has happened here before.”
Landlord of the Queens Head, Patrick Murphy, said: “It’s just not nice that this has happened around here.”
Reverend Peter Cook, of Hanham Baptist Church, spoke of the shock in the local community.
“I think it is shock and incomprehension,” he said. “It has ripped the community to its heart. I was just told about it when I was about to start my evening service and I really thought the person telling me was having me on.
“We stopped the service and prayed for what was going on – it seemed just so implausible.
“You don’t expect it happening on a Sunday afternoon when you are out for a cycle.
“I think it was totally out of the ordinary and that’s why people are so shocked by it.
“I don’t know the couple at all and I don’t think they come from Hanham. I know lots and lots of people in the community are praying for them and we want to give their families our deepest sympathies. We can’t imagine what it’s like to lose two people like this.”
A 38-year-old man remains in police custody having been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, Avon and Somerset Police said.
A 35-year-old woman has also been arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving.
The matter has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the force confirmed.
It is understood this relates to the fact that police had attempted to stop a Citroen Picasso car before the fatal collision.
Police said that shortly before 4pm yesterday, an officer’s attention was drawn to it travelling along Lower Hanham Road at speed.
The officer indicated to the car to stop but it made off.
“The officer began to follow the car but it was lost to sight almost immediately,” a force spokeswoman said.
“Very shortly afterwards the car struck another vehicle and then collided with two cyclists on a tandem bicycle.”
Mr and Mrs Simons both died at the scene as a result of their injuries.
Inspector Frazer Davey, from the Collision Investigation Team, said: “Following investigations overnight, the circumstances of this collision have become much clearer.
“However, I would appeal to anyone who witnessed this incident or saw this car in the area shortly before the collision to come forward and contact us.
“This is a tragic incident in which two people have needlessly lost their lives. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with their families.”
The man who was in custody handed himself in to police hours after the crash, having fled the scene.
The families of Ross and Clare Simons released a short statement yesterday which said: “Both of our families are completely devastated by the tragic events that took Ross and Clare from us.
“A very special couple have been taken from us and we have no words to describe our loss. We would all appreciate it if our privacy was respected at this difficult time in order for us to grieve as a family.”