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16 April 2010, 18:52
Police have named three teenagers and a man from Portsmouth who all died in a crash on the A4229 in South Wales on Thursday night.
17-year-old Tommy Marsh from Port Solent, 16-year-old Tommy Elmes, 19-year-old Lewis Mackley and 43-year-old Danny Philbrow who were all from Paulsgrove died when their car hit a tree near Porthcawl. A fifth man's still critically ill but stable in hospital.
A witness claims the car was travelling so fast it was physically ripped in two. Police said early indications are that the silver Vauxhall Vectra went out of control and left the road close to the Grove Golf Club.
The accident happened just before midnight on a straight section of road travelling towards Porthcawl following a bend. Little trace remains at the crash scene apart from a damaged roadside tree partially stripped of bark. Police signs on either side of the road appealing for any witnesses to come forward have been put up for passing motorists.
But 23-year-old golf professional Mark Rae, says he came upon the smouldering remains of the crashed car moments before it burst into flames. Mr Rae was travelling from Porthcawl to his home in South Cornelly at the time.
He said he arrived on the scene simultaneously with an off-duty police officer who also just happened to be passing.
"At first we both thought that two cars were involved. But as I turned my own car around and put the headlights on full to alert other drivers, I realised it was two halves of the same car,''
"It had split into two and was smouldering after hitting a tree on the other side of the road to which it had been travelling.''
He said it appeared the car had crossed the opposing carriageway at speed, mounted the curb and headed down an embankment where it hit a tree.
"Goodness knows how fast it must have been going to have split the car in two,'' he said. Mr Rae said three of the people in the car appeared to have been thrown clear of the wreckage by the impact of the crash.
He was unaware that more than three people had been involved until told later by the police. Mr Rae also praised the professionalism shown by the off-duty police officer who arrived at the scene at the same time.
"He obviously knew what to do and thank goodness he was there because I wouldn't have known myself.
"I stood and flagged down traffic and made sure than any oncoming cars could see us, but he took control of the situation.''