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Family of man killed by elderly wrong-way driver say death was ‘avoidable’

The family of an ex-soldier killed by an elderly wrong-way driver have said his death was "completely avoidable".

Stuart Richards, 32, died when an elderly driver towing a caravan the wrong way up a motorway ploughed into his vehicle.

The former serviceman – who had just finalised the sale of a house with his girlfriend – had been heading home at the time of the accident.

The rogue Subaru Forrester was reportedly travelling at about 60mph when it crashed into him on Monday afternoon.

And Stuart’s relatives say they later discovered the elderly driver had crashed the same 4X4 just five days earlier.

Stuarts, who enjoyed a glittering career with the British Army and had served his country in Iraq and Afghanistan, was on his way home from Gatwick airport when he was involved in the fatal crash.

The Subaru driver and a passenger, both in their eighties, also died in the tragedy.

Stuart’s younger brother Niall described him as their family’s "rock".

Speaking to MailOnline, he claimed: "It could have been completely avoided if certain things had been put into practice.

"This is the world we live in – under police cuts and roads not being looked after properly.

"Right now, we are more angry than upset."

Niall and his dad say they discovered the driver had crashed the same 4×4 just days before when they went to identify Stuart’s body.

It has also been revealed that Stuart had finalised the sale of a Stockport house with his partner Ashley Crawford just days before his death.

He and Ashley, who is from Belfast, had been together for five years.

Niall was waiting for Stuart at Stockport station when his brother’s girlfriend arrived in a police car and told him the awful news.

He added: "[Ashley] is absolutely devastated, obviously.

"We are a very tight family and we are all devastated – he was my best mate."

Dramatic footage shows how the car towing a caravan travelled up the motorway in the wrong direction before crashing into two oncoming vehicles.

West Oxfordshire councillor Colin Dingwall told the Sun : "I’ve seen a lot of things in my 50 years on the road, but never a caravan coming the wrong way up the M40.

“Luckily I and the cars near me managed to pull into the middle lane and get out of the way. He must have been going about 60mph. I had about two seconds to react.”

A Thames Valley Police spokesperson said they had received reports about the car about 4pm on Monday, October 15.

They said: "A few minutes later, the vehicle was subsequently in collision with two other cars, a Ford Mondeo and a Ford Focus near junction 6.

"The driver and a passenger of the Subaru, both aged in their eighties, died. They are yet to be formally identified at this time.

"The driver of the Ford Mondeo also died. He has now been formally identified as Stuart Richards, aged 32, from Stockport, Cheshire.

"Thames Valley Police has made a mandatory referral to the IOPC in relation to the fatal collision, due to previous police contact.

"On 10 October this year in High Wycombe, a report of a damage-only road traffic collision involving the Subaru Forester was made to the Force.

"The IOPC will now make a decision as to whether they will carry out an investigation."

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