Viola Beach band members were all lost in a car crash on Saturday. Early Saturday morning, a car carrying all four Viola Beach band members, along with their manager, plunged into a canal in Sweden. Viola Beach had just played at a music festival in Sweden on Friday, according to the Independent on Monday.
Although not officially confirmed, Viola Beach manager Craig Tarry was thought to have been driving the car that plunged nearly 100 feet into a canal in Sodertalje, Sweden, just southwest of Stockholm, after 2 a.m. local time on Saturday. All four Viola Beach band members were traveling with Tarry when their car suddenly went off the European route E4 motorway bridge, falling at least 82 feet into a canal below.
Witnesses say the band’s rental van was visible one minute and gone the next. CNN reports that, for reasons unknown, and despite warning lights and safety barriers, the driver of the car drove off a gap in the bridge that had been opened up to let a boat pass through.
“For some reason, the car drove through the barriers and crashed down into the canal,” said Inspector Martin Bergholm with the Stockholm police.
The car was damaged beyond repair, and all four Viola Beach band members were killed, as well as their manager, who was said to not have been drinking prior to the crash.
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) February 15, 2016
Hours before, British band Viola Beach had played alongside fellow European band Psykofant at a music festival in Sweden. Swedish Psykofant band member John Hugo Olsson claims that Tarry was, in fact, named Viola Beach’s designated driver for the night and had not been drinking at the Where’s the Music? festival in the eastern Swedish city of Norrkoping. However, according to Olsson, there had been a lot of snow that day.
Olsson, a Stockholm native, had reportedly driven the exact same E4 route one hour earlier that Viola Beach had taken after they left the music festival early Saturday morning.
Said Olsson, “We drove over the same bridge about an hour before and it had been a bit icy and the road was a bit slippery at the time.”
Psykofant band members had shared a dressing room with Viola Beach band members at the Where’s the Music? festival in Sweden, which ran from Thursday, February 11, to Saturday, February 13.
According to Olsson, all four Viola Beach band members had been in good spirits throughout the three-day music festival.
“They were a great band,” said Olsson. “I was standing in the audience thinking I will be able to say I hung around with Viola Beach before they made it big.”
Olsson managed to snap a photo of Viola Beach in the dressing room that was later shared on the Psykofant Facebook page as a tribute to the up-and-coming young British band. The photo is thought to be one of the very last photos taken of Viola Beach band members during their very last gig.
Eleven days prior to the fatal car crash that claimed the lives of all four Viola Beach band members, they shared on their Facebook page how excited they were to have been invited by BBC Introducing to play at the upcoming South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas on March 16.
According to the New York Daily News, Viola Beach was booked up with gigs through March and had just released their second single in January. The Where’s the Music? festival was the band’s first tour outside the UK since they formed in mid-2013 in Warrington, Cheshire, a town northwest of England. Two of the four Viola Beach band members who were killed on Saturday were not original band members.
Guitar player River Reeves, 19, and bass player Tomas Lowe, 27, joined Viola Beach in May 2015 with original band members, 19-year-old guitar player and vocalist Kris Leonard, and 24-year-old drum player Jack Dakin.
Indie pop group Viola Beach was due to open for the band Blossoms in Guildford in Surrey, England, on Saturday. The Boiler Room club, which was supposed to be the venue for the Guildford concert, announced that the show was canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.
Absolutely devastated for the loss of Viola Beach and Craig Tarry. Our thoughts are with their friends and families. pic.twitter.com/Fg52on42as
— B L O S S O M S (@BlossomsBand) February 14, 2016
The family of Viola Beach’s manager, Craig Tarry, 33, said they are devastated and grieving the loss of their son and also for the other families involved in the tragic accident.
Police are baffled as to why Viola Beach’s car went off the E4 bridge. Stockholm police say they are looking at all possible causes, including reckless driving, road conditions, DUI, or a default in the car. A post mortem examination of the driver will determine whether or not alcohol was involved.
“We are looking at the car, we are looking at the circumstances, we are talking to witnesses. We don’t have any answers yet and we have to look at everything,” according to Stockholm police spokesperson Carina Skagerlind.
The Daily Mail reports that the driver of the Viola Beach band’s rented black Nissan Qashqai actually sped up as it approached the E4 bridge, even though the bridge was being lifted. Sodertalje police say there’s no way the driver was under the influence of anything due to what appears to be deliberate driving and acceleration. The driver may have been trying to beat the vertical lift, even though, according to the Daily Mail, Viola Beach band members were only on their way to a hotel room near the Arlanda Airport to stay the remainder of the night before flying back to the UK later on Saturday.
Was Viola Beach possibly trying to make a scheduled hotel reservation?
As of Sunday, Swedish authorities had not confirmed the cause of the fatal car accident or who was driving the car. All proceeds of Viola Beach’s latest single will be donated to the band member’s families and the family of Viola Beach manager Craig Tarry.
Where’s the Music? is said to be a platform for new music to spread its wings. In remembrance of Viola Beach band members on Sunday, Psykofant wrote on their Facebook page that the Where’s the Music? festival should have been the start of the band’s new journey, but was instead the last show Viola Beach band members did.
[Image via Facebook/Viola Beach]