A 20-year-old British Airways flight attendant killed in a car crash with a lorry just before midnight on New Year’s Eve had just started her dream job, it emerged today.
Rachel Clark had completed her training only weeks before she died with fellow cabin crew members Joe Finnis, 25, and Dominic Fell, 23, near Heathrow Airport.
She completed her training in November, posting on Facebook at the time how it had been a ‘crazy six weeks’ and her excitement for ‘the start of a new chapter’.
Another 25-year-old stewardess, who was also in the car but has not been named, survived the crash in Stanwell, Surrey, and is in a serious condition in hospital.
All four cabin crew were friends seeing in the New Year together – two had finished work at Heathrow at 6pm, while the other two were off and not due to be on duty.
A ‘BA Angels Fund’ set up on Gofundme by fellow cabin crew member Stephen Crook for the families of those affected has now raised more than £49,000.
Rachel Clark, 20, died in the collision near London Heathrow Airport on Tuesday night
Miss Clark completed her training in November, posting on Facebook at the time how it had been a ‘crazy six weeks’ and her excitement for ‘the start of a new chapter’
Miss Clark (above) was today praised by friends as a ‘kind, beautiful and intelligent person’
Miss Clark, pictured in uniform while in Lisbon, previously worked for the Harlequins rugby union team, and attended Gumley House Convent School in Hounslow and Kingston College
Fellow cabin crew members have changed their profile pictures on Facebook to a memorial image reading ‘forever in our hearts’ with the BA logo.
Miss Clark previously worked for the Harlequins rugby union team in Twickenham, and attended Gumley House Convent School in Hounslow and Kingston College.
She posted a series of photographs on November 22 of her at a ceremony to mark the end of her training, writing: ‘What a crazy six weeks it has been!
‘Thank you to everyone that has supported me along the way and to this fabulous group of people for making these weeks bearable! The start of a new chapter.’
Her friend Marnee Burgess said on Facebook: ‘I can’t believe you’re gone. I will never forget that beautiful smile that lights up every room you enter.
Joe Finnis, 25, has also been named in tributes after he was killed in the car crash in Surrey
Tributes for Dominic Fell (above), 23, included ‘keep flying high’ after he was named as a victim
‘Three years feels like a lifetime I have known you. Thank you for welcoming me into your family and treating me like I’ve always been part of it.
‘I will never forget how much you cherished my boys and how amazing you were with them and the memories will stay close to my heart forever.’
Another friend, Hanushe Lala, added: ‘I am truly lost for words; you were a kind, beautiful and intelligent person who only ever brightened up everyone’s day
‘You will always have a special place in my heart, forever and always. I hope you rest in eternal peace. All our thoughts and prayers are with your family and loved ones.’
The crash happened when their white Toyota Yaris they were travelling in collided with a white Mercedes HGV at a junction in Stanwell at 11.39pm.
Writing on Facebook about Mr Finnis, fellow cabin crew member Lizzie-Lil Loughrey, said: ‘RIP Joe, literally in shock. I only saw you two weeks ago and was saying how happy I was for you and that it would be weird seeing you back (in) uniform.
The crash happened when the white Toyota Yaris the cabin crew were travelling in collided with a white Mercedes HGV at a junction in Stanwell, Surrey, at 11.39pm on New Year’s Eve
The driver of the lorry was unharmed and taken to hospital as a precaution following the crash
‘Absolutely heartbroken. Thoughts are with your family and the families of the other crew involved’.
Another friend, Henry Ambrose, said: ‘Joe Finnis, gutting news. Although we had only flown together a few times you most certainly had a big impact on the experience I had at BA. Rest in peace man.’
Paying tribute to both, Bailey Faulkner, said: ‘It’s a sad time when you get a message being told that two close mates from the skies have both passed away minutes before 2020.
‘I couldn’t thank you both for the endless trips together all across the world which each time was full of boozing and laughter, not forgetting the days spent sat in the pub! Gutted you’ve gone but you’ll never be forgotten! Keep flying high.’
Mr Finnis, a former RAF Cadet from Southampton, had undergone pilot training alongside his cabin crew role at British Airways.
And Mr Fell, from London, who had been at BA for more than two years, appears to have had a passion for photography.
A map shows where the crash happened in Stanwell, near Heathrow, and just outside London
A friend of Mr Fell, who did not wish to be named, told MailOnline: ‘Dom was one of a kind, a truly nice human being, one of the good guys. He loved his job at BA, he enjoyed every single second of it as he told my partner and I on numerous occasions.
‘His family I have no doubt are at present in shock but they have a strong support until and in time they will get through this and remember the family member and friend fondly.
‘Dom was indeed a keen photographer whose work was first class – and I hope in some way we can remember him through those photographs. RIP Dominic, you have done your family and friends proud.’
Mr Crook, a member of cabin crew at British Airways, set up the fundraising page for the families of those affected.
Writing on the page, he said: ‘As you are now all probably aware, on New Year’s Eve we lost three fellow Mixed Fleet Crew in a fatal car crash, and another is in hospital in a serious condition.
‘I have set up this fund to raise money so that we as a fleet can send a nice flower arrangement to the three crew members funerals and hopefully make a nice donation to a charity of the families choosing.
A fundraising page has been set up for the families of those affected, with £44,000 donated
‘Also the crew member who is in hospital will need all the support and help they can need after they get out of hospital and as such I would like to be able to give them a nice sum of money, to help them in those first few months.
‘I know it is January and I know that money is tight but I know that as a fleet we will pull together and make this happen.’
Commenting on the fundraiser, Ben Nunn said: ‘Had the pleasure of spending a small amount of time with Dom. Amazing young man. Such devastating news. RIP Angels.’
While Elaine Pearse said: ‘RIP Too young, too soon tragic. My daughters friends, work family, fly high. Dom, I met you once, made a lasting impression, lovely lad, cheeky smile, RIP.’
And Lauren Powell said: ‘Such sad news Joe you will be truly missed. Three lives taken way too early my heart goes out to all of your families. Keep soaring high angels.’
Also commenting on the fundraiser, Ruth Atkins said: ‘Such tragic and devastating news. Sending love and deepest sympathy to their families.’
And Gemma Waddington said: ‘Such sad news. Lovely to see the BA family coming together to support each other though.’
Jai Dillon, a British Airways Pilot Ambassador and Recruitment Pilot, was among those paying tribute to the cabin crew today.
He said: ‘Thoughts are with the friends and family of the three crew who were tragically taken from us last night whilst driving home from work to be with their loved ones for New Year.’
While the British Airway Flying with Confidence course Twitter account also tweeted: ‘Last night we tragically lost three members of our British Airway family.
‘Our thoughts and prayers are with their friends and families during this very difficult time.’
The group collided with the freight truck that had been destined for the airport and was believed to have been loaded with dangerous goods that were due to be shipped to Amsterdam.
The driver of the lorry was unharmed after the car was believed to have been rushing back to a pub in the Longford area of London so its passengers could see in the New Year.
No arrests have been made. The road was closed while the HGV was recovered.
British Airways said in a statement: ‘We’re deeply saddened to learn of the death of our colleagues involved in a road traffic collision last night.
Police officers were at the scene and recovery workers were also there, clearing the road
‘Our thoughts are with their family and friends, who we are supporting at this distressing time.’
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Witnesses at the scene said the car had pulled out of the junction just before 11.39pm.
Pictures from the scene show recovery workers taking the white car away, which appears to have blood stains on the car door.
Police officers were also at the scene and evidence was seen in bags on the pavement, while debris littered the floor.
Those at the scene added that the area was like a ‘war zone with bits left all over the road’.
‘We heard the two women in the rear of the car screaming. The emergency services got here really quickly and even the fire service went to the incident.’
No arrests have been made, the road remained closed on Wednesday to allow for the recovery of the HGV, and police are appealing for witnesses to contact them.
A local resident who had rushed out of her home to see what had happened told how the Dnata lorry was already in the water by the time she arrived and how later, medics were trying to save a woman lying in the road for 45 minutes, while another body was under a white sheet.
Barbara Ali, a mother-of-one, said: ‘At 11.36pm I texted my friend because I heard a really loud bang. It was like a lorry was jumping from somewhere, that’s the only way I can describe it.
The car above collided with a lorry that had been destined for the airport in London
‘I thought at first it was fireworks because it was New Year’s Eve so I did not go outside but later when I heard the sirens and saw the blue lights I went out.
‘I saw one person on the road with a white bag over them.
‘They were doing first aid on a person for 45 minutes. I couldn’t see if it was a man or a woman. I can imagine for the paramedics it was a really awful night.
‘A fire brigade officer told us the lorry driver had swerved into the river because he was trying to avoid hitting the car.’
The 32-year-old neighbour added: ‘This is a really dangerous road. The council needs to do an investigation and cut down some of the bushes which are blocking people from being able to see what is coming around the corner when they pull out of the junction.’
Police officers are pictured on New Year’s Day at the scene of the crash in Stanwell, Surrey
A local driver, who did not want to be named, said the crash scene looked ‘bad’.
He described it as ‘a bad road’ that needs widening, adding: ‘You would be amazed how many accidents have happened down that road.’
A spokesman for freight company dnata said this afternoon: ‘We can confirm that one of our trucks was involved in a road traffic accident on the evening of December 31.
‘We are fully assisting relevant authorities with their investigations. Our thoughts and condolences are with the families of those affected by this very sad incident.’
Surrey Police said: ‘Officers were called to Bedfont Road at 11.39pm on December 31 following reports of the collision at the junction with Long Lane.
The crash saw the lorry leave the road and entering the Longford River, which runs parallel
‘The collision resulted in the lorry leaving the road and entering the Longford River, which runs parallel with Bedfont Road.
‘A number of emergency services have responded to the incident and the roads in the immediate area are closed while the incident is investigation.’
Sergeant Chris Schultze from the Surrey and Sussex Roads Policing Unit said: ‘As part of that investigation we are asking for any witnesses to come forward, and if anyone has any CCTV, dashcam or other information that may assist the investigation to come forward.’
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