Friends and family of a group of school friends who lost their lives in a horror car crash have honoured the teens with unveiling of a memorial bench and a poignant balloon release.
Hundreds gathered at Groves Gardens in Wheatley Hills to remember the lives of crash victims Arpad Kore, aged 18, Bartosz Bortniczak, 18, and 16-year-olds Blake Cairns, Jordanna Goodwin and Megan Storey on Sunday – exactly a year after the accident.
The specially designed bench was unveiled during the event and has five seats – one for each of their friends.
The teenagers’ names are inscribed on the bench, written in blue for the boys and pink for the girls, with a personal message on the back of the seats chosen by each of their families.
Loved ones and well-wishers of the five crash victims laid flowers around the bench and released balloons during the moving memorial ceremony.
Les and Helen Cairns, parents of Blake, said: “The memorial bench for the five angels is a fitting tribute.”
They added: “To unveil the bench on November 15, exactly a year from the date of the accident was very emotional for all the families and friends of the five.” The event was organised in conjunction with Danum Academy, where Arpad, Blake, Jordanna and Megan were pupils and Bartosz was a former student.
Danum headteacher Rebecca Staples said in a letter to parents and pupils: “We are encouraging all children to help keep Grove Park a special place, and for all who use it to take care of it.”
She added: “All will be able to visit the bench, enjoy the gardens, and have a quiet moment whenever they need.”
The five school friends were travelling in a blue Toyota Corolla when it collided with a grey Seat León on Sheffield Road, Conisbrough, at around 9.40pm on November 15 last year.
All five died from their injuries, while the driver of the Seat León sustained a broken leg in the crash.
At an inquest into their deaths last month, senior Doncaster coroner Nicola Mundy ruled the collision had not been caused by racing or recklessness but by a steering error on the part of 18-year-old Bartosz, who was driving the Toyota Corolla.
Ms Mundy concluded with crash investigators that the most likely cause of the accident was that Bartosz took his foot off the accelerator as he negotiated a right-hand bend, causing a classic case of ‘lift-off over-steer’.
The car, which had been travelling at about 73mph in a 60mph limit, skidded and was side-on when it hit the Seat.