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CARNAGE; SIX killed after cars plough into two houses.

Byline: By Donna Watson

SIX people were killed when two cars ploughed into houses in separate crashes in the space of a few hours.

Three men, aged 35, 27 and 19, died in a Ford Mondeo which careered into the home of Stephanie Gordon, who had a miraculous escape.

And three other men, all aged 25, died when their Toyota 4x4 smashed into a farm cottage 35 miles away.

Student Stephanie plunged through the floor of her bedroom in her house in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, when the accident happened on Saturday night.

Witnesses said the car had been travelling at about 80mph before the fatal crash.

In the second smash near Winchburgh, West Lothian, two others, aged 25 and 27, managed to walk away with only minor injuries.

Last night, as what remained of the Gordon family home was demolished, police were probing both crashes.

The three men who died in the crash in Hamilton were named last night as Anthony Stewart, 35, of East Kilbride, and Derek Campbell, 19, and Andrew Morrison, 27, both of Hamilton.

A police spokesman added: "A full report will be sent to the fiscal."

The Mondeo shot off the road on a peak dubbed "death hill" by locals and took off before hitting the Gordons' house, destroying the front of the building.

Stephanie, 19, crashed through the ceiling of the living room, where parents Margaret and Robert had been sitting, as the Mondeo ploughed through just after 7pm on Saturday.

Last night, the family were recovering at the home of Stephanie's married sister Nichola Graham, also in Hamilton.

Nichola's husband Craig was at the wrecked house throughout the day to collect belongings and to liaise with police at the scene.

Stephanie answered the door at her sister's house and said: "This has been a terrible shock for us and we're struggling to come to terms with what has happened."

A pal of the teenager said: "Stephanie told me she was just messing about in her bedroom when this happened.

"It was all so fast that the first she knew was when she realised the floor had collapsed beneath her. The whole family appear to be in a bit of a daze about it all.

"There's really no way anyone can imagine how you would react to something like this.

"They're trying to work everything out but their home has been destroyed. And then, of course, they have to deal with the fact that three people have died.

"I'm sure they'll be grieving for the families of the men who have died as well as for what they have lost."

Margaret, a primary teacher and Robert, who used to work in the nearby Motorola factory before taking redundancy, declined to comment.

The couple recently became grandparents when Nichola, also a primary teacher, gave birth to daughter Rebecca.

Neighbours last night described the scene of the accident, Earnock Road, as a "death hill" and renewed calls for council action.

Last year, residents were evacuated when a small-load oil tanker lost control and skidded into the garden of a house, finishing dangerously close to where workmen building an extension were perched on scaffolding.

One resident said: "We have been campaigning for years to have real changes made to that road.

"A little girl was killed just yards from the Gordons' home when a car lost control, another woman died just at the bend a couple of years ago and it's a miracle nobody died when the oil tanker crashed into one of the gardens last year.

"It's a steep hill, coming from a country road right into a residential area. So speed builds up before they hit the built-up area and then they're straight on to the hill before they've time to slow down.

"Unfortunately, it takes lives to be lost before anyone takes notice of these things."

Another neighbour, Stevie Kelly, added: "The Gordons are a lovely family and very well-known and well-liked.

"It was a real shock for everyone around here to hear what happened and we were all concerned to make sure they were OK.

"Their new little granddaughter has been at the house recently and everyone's relieved that she wasn't there too when this happened."

The main road outside the Gordons' home remained cordoned off by police throughout the day yesterday and immediate neighbours were evacuated from their homes.

Chief Inspector Jim Igoe, of Strathclyde Police, described the crash as "absolutely horrendous" and said the Gordons had been lucky to escape uninjured.

He said: "The three occupants had an extremely lucky escape."

Witness Chris Menary, 17, said he thought the driver must have been travelling at about 80mph.

He said: "I was just looking outside my house and you hear the car coming down the main road, you can tell he's obviously going to crash.

"He came to the embankment and sort of took off and went right into the house."

Seven hours later, a Toyota 4x4 ran off the road in the village of Three mile town, near Winchburgh, West Lothian, smashing into a cottage's stone wall.

Two men died at the scene and a third died later in hospital

Cottage owner Keith Hewitt said yesterday his children had been badly affected by the crash, which happened at around 2.15am.

He said: "My thoughts go out to the families of the men who died.

"I don't want to say too much as my young family have been left distressed."

At least one of the men is believed to have worked for Core Cut drilling contractors near Livingston.

A neighbour said: "I recognised the Toyota as being one of the vehicles used by Core Cut."

Jo Stagg, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said the double disaster was "particularly tragic".

She added: "To have multiple deaths like this in such a short space of time is awful and really makes people stop and think about their safety."

CAPTION(S):

DEMOLISHED: The Hamilton home of Stephanie Gordon, inset below, and the second house near Winchburgh, West Lothian, bottom; TAKE-OFF: Tyre marks can be seen in the turf at the spot where the Ford Mondeo flew off the road before hitting the house; IMPACT: A wall lies flattened after being struck by the 4x4; SO LUCKY: Stephanie, top, is comforted after the car smashed into the side of her house. At the moment of impact, she was in her upstairs bedroom, left, while mum Margaret, right, and dad were downstairs BILL FLEMING/ALAN SIMPSON
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 2, 2009
Words:1082
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