BRIT DAD AND 2 KIDS DIE ON FRENCH M-WAY; Investigators suspect driver fell asleep at wheel.
Byline: MARTIN FRICKER
A BRITISH family of five's holiday ended tragically when the dad and two young children were killed in a horror road crash.
The father, 31, apparently fell asleep while driving on a French motorway before the car ploughed across the central reservation and into a bridge column at 7.15am yesterday.
Police said he and his wife were trapped in the Nissan saloon, while their three children were thrown out of the vehicle and into the road.
The woman and her youngest child, a boy of three, were last night fighting for their lives in hospital.
Another boy and a girl, aged four and 10, died instantly while their father suffered a fatal heart attack minutes after the crash near Dijon.
The family are understood to be from Hartlepool, County Durham.
Witnesses said the road was quiet at the time of the accident and weather conditions were clear.
A senior police commander said of the driver: "We can perhaps imagine he fell asleep or was distracted by something."
Authorities have opened a judicial review into the tragedy on the southbound carriageway of the A39 toll autoroute at Savigny-en-Revermont in eastern France. Photos from the scene show the mangled wreckage of the vehicle and debris in the road, including a child's booster seat and the family's personal possessions.
The mother was airlifted to Edouard Herriot hospital in Lyon along with her young son.
Sources said the tragic pair remain in a critical condition in intensive care.
Psychiatrists were sent to the accident scene to offer counselling to the witnesses.
The Foreign Office confirmed the victims were British nationals and said it was providing assistance following the tragedy.
RESCUE Helicopters at scene of the accident on toll road
PROBE Police and firefighters investigate the horror crash
WRECK Mangled remains of the car near Dijon yesterday