THE family of a young Solihull couple tragically killed when a plane crashed into a busy railway line have dismissed reports they were expecting a baby.
Newlyweds Nick and Emma O’Brien died on Friday when a light aircraft piloted by a work colleague of Mr O’Brien’s, Alan Matthews, smashed into ground next to railway lines at Colwich Junction, near the village of Little Haywood, Staffordshire.
Mr O’Brien, 35, from Shirley, Solihull, and 29-year-old Mrs O’Brien, were married in August and were parents to 18-month-old son Joel. Mrs O’Brien was also mother to Callum, aged ten, from a previous relationship – but last night, reports that she was pregnant with a third child were dismissed by the family.
Walsall pilot Alan Matthews, who owned the Piper Cherokee plane, also died in the tragedy but was hailed a hero after he managed to narrowly avoid houses, village shops and a nunnery.
A British Transport Police spokeswoman said the flight had been organised by Mr O’Brien and Mr Matthews, who were work colleagues, and arranged as a social occasion, not a Christmas present from Mr O’Brien to his wife as previously thought.
Yesterday, tributes continued to flood in for the couple on social networking site Facebook on a special page set up in their memory.
One from friend Rebecca Hill said: “Why? Why did this have to happen to a couple of nice, loving people who, after years, have found happiness together.
“Emma, I will never forget the good times we had at the nursery working together.
“Watch your children grow up to be big and strong happy boys. You and Nick have made an impact on their lives and showed them the way to go. They will do you proud. Now go and be the brightest star in the sky so the boys know where to look for you at night. Miss you loads.”
Mr O’Brien was a buyer for building company Armoury Construction and had previously worked at MV Kelly and Durdens.
The pilot’s wife, Jenny Matthews, paid tribute to her husband, who she said had 19 years of flying experience. She said: “He was loving, caring and would help anybody. He was an experienced pilot and loved his flying.’’
The crash shut the West Coast Main Line that links London, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow over the weekend. Virgin Trains battled to reroute services but an extra 40 minutes was added to journey times for its services via Birmingham and Wolverhampton.
Network Rail and Virgin Trains said services would be back to normal this morning, but damage to overhead cables between Watford Junction and Watford tunnel meant trains were being stopped from leaving London Euston.
Network Rail said trains were unlikely to be running along the affected stretch first thing today. A spokeswoman said staff were working throughout the night but “extensive damage” meant it was more likely that train services in and out of Euston would resume mid-morning.
Passengers are advised to check with www.nationalrail.co.uk or 08457 48 49 50.