Bride's anguish over chauffeur 'killed in Shoreham air show crash' as he drove to pick her up for her wedding

  • Rebecca and Rajendran Asekaran went ahead with big day on Saturday
  • They have spoken of horror at hearing their limousine driver is feared dead
  • He was on way to collect bride when fighter jet smashed into the Daimler 
  • As many as 20 are believed to have died in Shoreham Airshow crash 

A bride has paid tribute to the chauffeur who is believed to have been killed in the Shoreham crash as he drove to pick her up for her wedding.

Meanwhile Rebecca Asekaran’s father has told of her upset and guilt after finding out about the tragedy during her big day.

The bride was left bemused when her limo did not arrive at her home in Goring-by-Sea, West Sussex. 

Rebecca and Rajendran Asekaran (pictured) went ahead with their big day and only found out about the Shoreham Airshow disaster which claimed the lives of 20 people after the ceremony

Rebecca and Rajendran Asekaran (pictured) went ahead with their big day and only found out about the Shoreham Airshow disaster which claimed the lives of 20 people after the ceremony

The couple's driver was on his way to collect the bride from her home  when a Hawker Hunter fighter jet smashed into the luxury Daimler (pictured) and ripped off the vintage car's roof on the A27

The couple's driver was on his way to collect the bride from her home when a Hawker Hunter fighter jet smashed into the luxury Daimler (pictured) and ripped off the vintage car's roof on the A27

After trying the mobile number of the driver, her father Paul Sheen decided to drive her to the ceremony 15 minutes away at Findon Manor in Findon.

Mr Sheen, 61, said his daughter and her husband Rajendran, 47, only found out about the disaster hours later.

Guests saw pictures of a burnt-out Daimler limousine on the internet and concluded the wedding car must have been caught up in the fireball on the A27.

The newlyweds said in a statement: ‘It’s a shock – we only found out through social media – our thoughts are with his family.’ 

Mr Sheen said: ‘Rebecca’s quite upset about the driver. We still don’t know if he’s alive or dead, she’s shocked and sad about it all. We had a lovely day despite everything. 

'The ceremony went well but everybody there, and everybody in the hotel who wasn’t part of the wedding, was thinking about what was going on up the road.

The couple said they were horrified to see pictures of the burnt-out Daimler which was due to take the bride to Findon Manor in West Sussex

The couple said they were horrified to see pictures of the burnt-out Daimler which was due to take the bride to Findon Manor in West Sussex

As many as 20 people were killed when a Hunter Hawker fighter jet crashed into cars on the A27 in West Sussex

As many as 20 people were killed when a Hunter Hawker fighter jet crashed into cars on the A27 in West Sussex

‘The day wasn’t ruined, it was a brilliant day. But at the same time you always think what was and what if.’

Rebecca’s quite upset about the driver. We still don’t know if he’s alive or dead, she’s shocked and sad about it all. We had a lovely day despite everything
Paul Sheen, bride's father

Mr Sheen added: ‘I told my daughter: “It’s nothing to do with you, it’s not your fault,” but she does feel that, “if I hadn’t hired the car he wouldn’t have been coming to pick me up”, so there is some guilt involved.’

Mrs Asekaran did not wish to comment on the tragedy as she arrived at her home yesterday. But she told reporters: ‘My thoughts are with the families and we want to know how the driver is.’

Jay Sherwin, the owner of Chariots Chauffeurs, based near Lewes, East Sussex, said: ‘Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of our driver who was caught up in the tragic air crash.

‘We ask the media to respect the privacy of his family. We will be making no further comments at this sad time.’ 

The driver had reportedly worked as a wedding chauffeur for more than 20 years.

The Hawker Hunter narrowly avoided a long line of traffic including a bus before it cashed onto the A27 during an attempted loop 

The Hawker Hunter narrowly avoided a long line of traffic including a bus before it cashed onto the A27 during an attempted loop 

Worthing United footballers Jacob Schilt, 23, and Matt Grimstone have been named as among the 11 victims along with gym instructor Matt Jones, 24, after former RAF jet pilot Andy Hill crashed into several cars.

It’s a shock – we only found out through social media – our thoughts are with his family
Rebecca and Rajendran Asekaran

Miraculously, the pilot, who flies for British Airways, was pulled from the flaming wreckage of his jet and flown by air ambulance to hospital. He is currently in a critical condition. 

South East Coast Ambulance Service said earlier that at least seven people had died in the crash, 14 were injured, with four of them taken to hospital.

Footage has emerged showing the single-seater 1950s jet hurtling towards the ground before it exploded into a massive ball of flames and smoke.

Mr Hill, who is in his 50s, is a very experienced pilot with more than 12,000 hours in the cockpit. His wife is also understood to be a very experienced airline pilot.

The driver, who has not been named, is thought to have been inside the luxury Daimler (pictured) when the Hawker Hunter smashed into it and ripped off the vintage car's roof

The driver, who has not been named, is thought to have been inside the luxury Daimler (pictured) when the Hawker Hunter smashed into it and ripped off the vintage car's roof

The black and cream Daimler (pictured) was due to pick the bride up and take her to a wedding in Goring-be-Sea

The black and cream Daimler (pictured) was due to pick the bride up and take her to a wedding in Goring-be-Sea

Photographers have captured the moment the Hawker Hunter exploded in a ball of flames in the seaside town in West Sussex 

Photographers have captured the moment the Hawker Hunter exploded in a ball of flames in the seaside town in West Sussex 

As the aircraft came to the bottom of its loop, Mr Hill pitched the nose of the aircraft up in a desperate attempt to gain altitude, but the jet continued downwards.

The first fire crews were on the scene within seconds of the aircraft coming to a rest and the pilot was pulled from the cockpit, which had broken away from the rest of the air frame.  

Superintendent Jane Derrick, from Sussex Police, said that at least seven people died at the scene. All of those who died are believed to have died on the A27 between Worthing and Brighton.

A specialist team of officers are continuing to search the scene of the accident to ensure that they have identified all of the victims.  

Terry Smith, 50, bravely risked his life to pull stricken people from cars stranded as flames engulfed the A27 in Shoreham, West Sussex.

The Hawker Hunter crushed a Vauxhall Corsa, pictured, as it desperately tried to gain altitude during its aerobatic display on Saturday

The Hawker Hunter crushed a Vauxhall Corsa, pictured, as it desperately tried to gain altitude during its aerobatic display on Saturday

The pilot desperately tried to pitch his aircraft up in an effort to gain altitude as the jet was just a few feet above the main A27 

The pilot desperately tried to pitch his aircraft up in an effort to gain altitude as the jet was just a few feet above the main A27 

He revealed that he was so close to the blaze it scorched his skin, saying: 'I can't believe I escaped with my life.

'It seemed to come in at a really strange angle. He just didn't have enough height. I was just thinking, this is coming too close, it's not going to make it, it's not going to make it.

'He just slammed into the cars that were queuing. There was this huge fireball and as it went past, it was like something out of a horror movie. It turned into a big black fireball as it went past.

'I just grabbed my daughter and we ran towards the bushes instinctively. I got hit by some of the debris, it scuffed my leg but I wasn't injured.

'The fireball was just immense, it was searing heat I could feel burning my skin.'

The Royal Sussex County hospital was put on alert for a major incident and a number of helicopters have been deployed to the scene to evacuate casualties to hospital. 

Police warned that the death toll was expected to rise from 11. Pictured, emergency services at the scene

Police warned that the death toll was expected to rise from 11. Pictured, emergency services at the scene

The Hawker Hunter was destroyed, with this section just behind the pilot engulfed in a fireball after it smashed into the ground

The Hawker Hunter was destroyed, with this section just behind the pilot engulfed in a fireball after it smashed into the ground

Witnesses have described seeing the jet stall during a loop-the-loop stunt and fail to complete the manoeuvre before smashing into waiting traffic belly down in a 'massive ball of flames'. 

Tony Wallace, 48 from Shoreham, watched the crash from nearby Mill Hill with his friends and two children.

He said: 'The Hunter came from the airport and flew over us and did and loop the loop to go back around to the airport, but at the bottom of the loop it just seemed to lose power and went into the ground belly down in a massive ball of flames.'

'We could see it all; it went down on the A27 by the lights near the airport. That road has been chockablock all day and we can see stationary cars there now. There's still plume of smoke, fire engines and a car covered in foam. It looks like a warzone. 

'There are around 200 people watching it here and there was a gasp of horror. If the pilot ejected, we didn't see it.'  

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