Hanham tandem crash victims Ross and Clare Simons were "perfect couple"
GRIEVING family and friends have paid their respects to a "perfect couple" who died after a car fleeing police hit their tandem.
Ross Simons, 34, and his wife Clare, 30, were thrown from their bike as they cycled along Lower Hanham Road at about 4pm on Sunday.
Last night about 100 grief- stricken people walked from The Star pub on Hanham Road to the scene of the incident, where they held a vigil for the couple.
The group, led by Ross's father, hugged and consoled each other and lit tea-lights at the scene, where dozens of bouquets of flowers have been laid.
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Ross's sister, Kelly Woodruff, paid tribute to the couple.
She said: "This vigil is a tribute to Ross and Clare, because they are so loved and will be so missed by so many.
"It has been an amazing turnout for two amazing people – it could not have been any better for them. I think it just proves what everyone thought of them.
"They were special people who had special qualities. They were the perfect couple. They loved each other unconditionally – they were absolutely made for each other."
Kelly's husband, Kevin, said: "They never had a bad word to say about anyone. They were perfect."
Ross, who worked for his father's property rental company, and Clare, who worked for a fashion store in Cabot Circus, bought their tandem shortly before Christmas because it was something they had always wanted.
They lived in Hillfields, Fishponds, and were on their way to have tea with Kelly and Kevin when the accident happened.
Ross attended Cadbury Heath primary school before going on to The Grange School at Warmley, while Clare went to Warmley C of E primary and Sir Bernard Lovell School in Oldbury Common.
They met through a mutual friend in 2001 and were married about 18 months ago.
A joint statement from the couple's families was released via Avon and Somerset Police last night.
In it, they said: "Both of our families are completely devastated by the tragic events that took Ross and Clare from us.
"A very special couple have been taken from us and we have no words to describe our loss."
Police also issued a statement confirming that an officer had been pursuing a Citroen Picasso car, which had been seen travelling "at speed", before the fatal crash.
A spokesman said: "Shortly before 4pm on Sunday, a police officer's attention was drawn to a Citroen Picasso travelling along Lower Hanham Road at speed.
"The officer indicated for the car to stop but it made off.
"The officer began to follow the car but it was lost to sight.
"Very shortly afterwards the car struck another vehicle and then collided with two cyclists on a tandem bicycle."
Ross and Clare died from their injuries at the scene, while the driver of the car fled.
On Sunday night a 38-year-old man handed himself in to police and was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.
A 35-year-old woman was also arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving.
The matter has been referred to police watchdog the Independent Police Complaints Commission, because of police involvement in the events leading up to the fatal crash.
Friends of the couple said they had desperately wanted children and had just been given the go-ahead to start IVF treatment.
Diane Pullin, from Kingswood, said: "They are a lovely family, so kind and so helpful.
"They don't deserve this. They'd just had news that they were able to have fertility treatment – everything to live for.
"It's just terrible and it shouldn't have happened. Two young people with their lives in front of them... snapped away just like that."
Mrs Pullin said her daughter Shelley and Shelley's husband had been out for a meal on Saturday night with Ross and Clare.
She said the couple had "desperately wanted children".
"They'd just been given the go-ahead," said Mrs Pullin.
"They were so happy on Saturday night."
Family friend Steve Camm, who laid flowers at the scene of the incident, said: "They were like two peas in a pod. They were never apart.
"They could never do enough for anybody. They were caring people.
"They always did random stuff – you could never stop them from having fun.
Ross's father visited the scene earlier yesterday with the Rev Peter Cook, vicar of Hanham Baptist Church.
Mr Cook told The Post: "There is deep shock and incomprehension of what has happened in Hanham at the moment.
"Until 50 years ago, Hanham was a village outside of Bristol and still has that villagey atmosphere.
"What has happened has really shocked everyone.
"I was halfway through a church service when I found out what had happened on Sunday night.
"I immediately stopped the service and we prayed for everyone involved.
"It's one of those things you just don't expect to happen in your area.
"I have spoken to Mr Simons' father, who is devastated – there are no words to describe how the family feels.
"The family has my deepest sympathies and I know many people in the community are praying for them."
One message, on flowers left at the scene of the crash, read: "Ross and Clare, you were an amazing couple and fantastic people.
"You will be missed so, so much by all.
"RIP – gone but never forgotten."
Messages on others included the words, "Be at peace," and "Our hearts go out to you and your families".
Another bouquet was left by Hanham Business and Community Partnership.
Maxine Hanks, 50, a support worker, who lives near the scene of the incident, said she heard a "loud bang" at about 4pm on Sunday.
She said: "My daughter Becky opened the front door and saw two people lying in the road.
"I came straight outside and saw police were already there.
"A neighbour, who is a nurse, had come outside and was trying to help, while a police officer was doing CPR.
"My husband and daughter brought coats outside to keep them warm and other neighbours had brought blankets.
"There was debris all over the road and in people's gardens.
"The Citroen had landed in my neighbour's garden, facing the wrong way round, and another neighbour said she had seen it fly through the air.
"Bits of the bike were up the road, with the saddle in one garden and the handlebars in another."
"We were told by neighbours that before hitting the cyclists the Citroen had hit a number of cars before flying into the air.
"Everyone came out to help, and it really seemed the paramedics and the police were doing all they could to save them.
"It's just so sad – everyone is so shocked by it."
Another neighbour Raj Singh, 21, a sales manager, said: "It's been very upsetting – you know people die on the roads every day but you don't expect it to happen on your doorstep."
Inspector Frazer Davey, from the Collision Investigation Team, appealed to anyone who witnessed the incident, or saw the Citroen Picasso car in the area shortly before the collision, to come forward.
He said: "This is a tragic incident in which two people have needlessly lost their lives.
"Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with their families."
Anyone with information should call police on force number 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via www.crime stoppers-uk.org.