A NEWLYWED couple from Shirley were among three people killed when a light aircraft crashed in Staffordshire last Friday.
Nick and Emma O’Brien were passengers in a Piper Cherokee which smashed into the ground next to railway lines at Colwich Junction, near the village of Little Haywood.
The plane was piloted by Alan Matthews, from Walsall, a work colleague of Mr O’Brien’s, who owned the plane.
He was hailed a hero for managing to narrowly avoid houses and shops.
Yesterday, investigations were continuing into the cause of the crash, which shut the West Coast main line over the weekend.
Mr O’Brien, aged 35, and his 29-year-old wife were married in August.
Their deaths orphaned two children, 18-month-old Joel and Callum, aged ten, Mrs O’Brien’s son by a previous relationship. They are now being looked after by relatives.
No-one from the O’Brien family wanted to speak about the tragedy, but they issued a statement through British Transport Police, dismissing reports that Mrs O’Brien was pregnant with a third child.
They also said the flight had been arranged as a “social occasion”, not a Christmas present from Mr O’Brien to his wife as previously thought.
Mr Matthews was a member of a flying club at Fradley, near Lichfield, and was described as an experienced pilot.
Mr O’Brien worked until last summer as a manager for MV Kelly, a Birmingham civil engineering firm. Paul Whelan, managing director, said the 250-strong workforce was “devastated” by the news of his death.
“He was such a popular guy, a good friend and well thought of by everyone who knew him,” said Mr Whelan. “It is so tragic. One of our other employees is married to his wife’s sister and he is off this week and helping to care for the children.”
Tributes have flooded in for the O’Briens on social networking website Facebook on a special page set up in their memory.
One from friend Rebecca Hill said: Why did this have to happen to a couple of nice, loving people who, after years, have found happiness together?”