Page last updated at 14:36 GMT, Tuesday, 15 July 2008 15:36 UK

Sisters among three dead in crash

Elena Putnam, Rachel Putnam and Mark Gardiner
Elena and Rachel Putnam and Mark Gardiner died in the crash

Two "bright and beautiful" sisters and one of their boyfriends died in a head-on crash between a car and a van in Aberdeenshire.

The victims were named locally as sisters Elena Putnam, 18, and Rachel Putnam, 20, and her boyfriend Mark Gardiner, 22, all from Cullen.

The crash happened on the B9022 south of Portsoy on Monday night.

Grampian Police said it was a "shocking and tragic event". Two men in the van were injured.

Police said the Citroen Saxo's driver and teenage passenger were pronounced dead at the scene. The older victim was airlifted to hospital but died from her injuries.

The two men in the van were taken to Dr Gray's Hospital, Elgin, for treatment for injuries which were not said to be life-threatening.

This has been one of the blackest weeks on roads in the Grampian Police area for a long time
Supt Harry Thorburn
Grampian Police

Elena and Rachel, who are understood to have been students, were described by neighbours as "bright and beautiful".

Their family was said to be "very close and loving".

And offshore worker Mr Gardiner was described in Cullen as a "very likeable lad".

Ron Shepherd, the local councillor for Keith and Cullen, told the BBC Scotland news website: "It's devastating news - they were very nice kids."

The deaths take the total number of people killed on Grampian's roads to six in the last week.


The aftermath of the crash

Supt Harry Thorburn, of Grampian Police, said: "This was a shocking and tragic event which will have a deep and lasting impact on the families of those involved.

"We are deeply saddened that our officers have had to deal with four fatal road traffic collisions in just one week.

"This has been one of the blackest weeks on roads in the Grampian Police area for a long time and we feel very much for the families of the three young people who have died in this latest collision, as we do for the families of the three people who died earlier in the week."

He added: "I would urge drivers to take great care on the roads so that they do not become victims, and their families do not have to endure what the relatives of these three young people are suffering today."

Better equipped

The road was closed for nine hours to allow an accident investigation to take place.

Grampian Police appealed for witnesses.

The minister for transport and local MSP, Stewart Stevenson, said the Scottish Government was already looking at how it could make people better equipped for driving in difficult conditions.

He told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "We certainly need to make sure that people who've just passed their test build their experience up and gain an understanding of road conditions.

"We also need to look at whether in passing their test they are fully equipped to carry passengers, to drive at night, to drive in bad weather.

"So, it may be that there is a role for looking at how licences gradate up to full qualification."

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10 Jul 08 |  North East/N Isles
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