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The BBC's Graham Satchell
"Roads were icy at the time of the crash"
 real 28k

Monday, 27 December, 1999, 17:25 GMT
Boy critical after crash kills siblings

Police described the accident as a terrible tragedy

A multiple car crash that killed two siblings and injured their mother and brother could have been caused by icy conditions, police have said.

Four-year-old Neza Price and his two-year-old sister, Claudette, died on Sunday in a crash involving a marked Durham Police car and two other vehicles on the A68 near Witton le Wear, County Durham.

The children's mother Shelleen Price, 32, suffered abdominal injuries and is at Darlington Memorial Hospital. Neza's twin brother, Sid, is in a critical condition in Newcastle General Hospital where he has severe head injuries.

An off-duty policewoman with the Durham force, who was a passenger in a Renault Scenic which collided with the police car, was also hurt in the crash, along with her husband and son.

The Price family, who live at the Coundon Grange travellers' site, near Bishop Auckland, were passengers in the marked police car taking them to a women's refuge when the crash happened.

Durham Police, who have launched an investigation, said the patrol car was in a collision with the Renault Scenic travelling in the opposite direction.

The driver of the Renault Scenic was named as Aaron Robertson, 21, from south Durham, who was released after treatment.

His wife Joanne, 27, was detained in Darlington Memorial Hospital with a fractured pelvis.

Their 10-month-old son Lewis was being treated for a fractured leg.

A couple and their two-year-old baby boy travelling in a hired Ford Escort, also involved in the crash, escaped uninjured.

Police have named the driver of the patrol car as Pc Michael Austin, 30, who is stationed at Bishop Auckland police station.

Pc Austin, who was trapped in his vehicle and had to be cut free by firefighters, is at Dryburn Hospital, in Durham, with a fractured knee cap, cuts and whiplash.

Inspector Tony Bell said last night: "It's a terrible tragedy, coming the day after Christmas Day, and when I arrived on duty everyone was shocked by it.

"The officer involved is a family man himself and this will be with him for a long time."

'Skidded and collided'

Sid Price was initially taken to Bishop Auckland General Hospital but was later transferred under police escort to Newcastle General Hospital.

His sister and twin brother were certified dead at Durham's Dryburn Hospital.

A police spokesman said: "Early indications suggest that the Renault, which was travelling south, skidded and collided with the police panda which was on its correct side of the road and travelling in the opposite direction.

"The mother and her three children who were in the panda car were being ferried from Bishop Auckland police station to a women's refuge in the north of the region."

He added that the children's father had been informed of the accident.
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26 Dec 99 |  UK
Children die in police crash tragedy

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