FAMILIES have been left reeling after three pals were found dead as two friends lay injured inside the crashed car – two days after the group of five were reported missing.
Rafel Jeane-Actie, 24, and pals Eve Smith and Darcy Ross, both 21, died when their white VW Tiguan crashed near Cardiff, Wales in the early hours of Saturday.
Sophie Russon, 20, and Shane Loughlin, 32, were discovered alive inside the wreck 48 hours later off the A48 in St Mellons – they remain in a critical condition in hospital.
The five had been out at Muffler bar and club in Maeglas, Newport, on Friday night before heading to Porthcawl and back prior to the smash off a roundabout.
But five key questions remain unanswered by the police into how the group crashed and remained undiscovered for 48 hours.
The mother of Sophie Russon – who was discovered alive hanging suspended in the wreckage – claimed cops thought Sophie may be hungover when the pals were reported missing.
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Anna Certowicz, 42, was on Sunday driving around Gwent and Cardiff "worried sick" when her daughter failed to return home but claims cops didn't take the five's disappearance seriously.
She told the Daily Mail: "They didn't seem to care. I had to drive to Cardiff to knock on doors myself because they were doing sod all.
"They just didn't seem to think it was worth investigating. It was so frustrating.
"I think they assumed that Sophie was hungover somewhere, but she's a sensible girl who works in a bank and hasn't taken a day off for three years… She wouldn't just vanish like this unless something was wrong."
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Following the claims, a spokesperson from Gwent Police told The Sun: "We will be liaising closely with the families involved to find out more information and address any concerns of this nature."
Anna said Sophie is “unrecognisable” from injuries – a bleed on the brain and fractured skull – and is under sedation after panic attacks in hospital.
Who found them?
Lewis Pace, a close friend of Rafel who died in the smash, and his dad Matthew say they discovered the wreckage before cops.
The family say they came across the car just after midnight on Monday – 15 minutes after launching their search – when they saw tyre marks off the roundabout.
Matthew, from Cardiff, said the pair pulled up and walked towards the trees after spotting what they thought was "a headlight glinting".
He added: “The next minute a plain clothes police car pulled up… They radioed in to the helicopter and shone flashlights to guide it in… it went crazy."
Despite the pair's account, Gwent Police claim it was officers from the force that discovered the car, saying: "Officers on the ground had sight of the car at 12:02am and this culminated in a log being created by South Wales Police at 12:15 am."
Tracking them down
Friends Sophie, Eve, and Darcy arrived at Muffler bar and club at around 11pm on Friday.
Inside the trio met Shane and Rafel, whom the girls had never met, before all five went to Shane's family caravan in Trecco Bay, Porthcawl – around 36 miles from Newport.
Darcy had posted photos of her and Rafel partying that night to Snapchat.
But haunting CCTV shows the car the group had been travelling in at around 2am in the Llanedeyrn area of Cardiff where they reportedly dropped off an unnamed man.
It comes as…
- Three pals were found dead in a crashed car after five people vanished while on a night out in Newport
- Eve Smith, 21, was confirmed dead by her family, who had tragically lost her sister in a crash eight years ago
- Two pals were pictured beaming on the night out before the tragedy
- The mum of Sophie Russon claimed cops told her to stop calling
- She has now revealed her agony at desperately searching for her daughter while she lay critically injured
- Haunting CCTV was shared by friends of the car before it vanished in the early hours of Saturday
- Police are now probing just what happened in the hours before the crash
The group may have travelled around 85 miles in total before coming off the road – but they remained undiscovered for 48 hours.
Police say they only received the first missing person report at 7.34pm on Saturday.
Further missing persons reports came in at 7.43pm, 9.32pm that night before South Wales Police received a fourthat 5.37pm on Sunday.
Cops from Gwent Police discovered the car around 12.02pm on Monday.
The families of crash survivors Sophie Russon and Shane Loughlin are waiting to hear their account of what happened that fateful night.
While the pair are yet to tell their versions of the story in full, Sophie's mum Anna told Mail Online: “She was lying there wondering if help would ever arrive.
“She must have thought she was going to die. She was calling out at times but no one could hear her.
“It would have got light and then dark as night fell on Saturday, then she had to go through that again until she was found.”
Police Tuesday said that “investigations are ongoing to determine the circumstances of the incident, including when the collision took place”.
Will police apologise to family
It is unclear if the police have apologised for the time it took to find the crash victims.
The response was last night blasted by victim Rafel's sister, Ffion Actie, as she paid tribute to "big character" Rafel who was "loving and very, very popular".
Speaking to Sky News, she said: "That is probably the worst part about it – thinking that they were sat there injured."
The broken sister – who admits Rafel's death "doesn't feel real" – said she was "disappointed that maybe things weren't done sooner".
And she says the police "should have acted straightaway" when the five vanished.
Rafel was the son of former Cardiff and QPR footballer Leon Jeanne.
Following the tragic discovery, Eve Smith's grieving dad Everton paid tribute on Facebook, saying he was overcome with "numbness".
He added: "It’s taken a couple of days and I just can’t believe what has happened, the pain and numbness constantly reminding me that I will never see my beautiful daughter Eve again.
"I would give anything to hear her sing a song again, fly high my queen, I loved you more than words can say and will cherish the 21 years I had with you bossing my life!
"My family and I would appreciate time to grieve and mourn."
The Independent Office for Police Conduct are investigating cops' handling of the case.
IOPC director David Ford said: “My thoughts go out to the families and friends of those who have tragically lost their lives…
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"To those who have been injured, and indeed to the many people who have been affected by this incident.
"After careful assessment of referrals from Gwent and South Wales Police we have decided to independently investigate how police responded to the missing person reports."
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