Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT
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A demolished car taken from the Södertälje Canal Saturday. Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT Credit: Johan Nilsson / TT
Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT
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The Södertälje Canal. Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT Credit: Johan Nilsson / TT
Johan Nilsson / TT
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Rescue teams in the Södertälje Canal Saturday. Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT- Credit: Johan Nilsson / TT

Five dead in car crash were members of British band

"This was actually the first gig outside the UK, they told me."
2:28 min

The five men who died after their car drove off a bridge in Södertälje on Saturday were British nationals and members and the manager of the pop-rock band Viola Beach.

The victims were aged between 19 and 35 according to British daily The Guardian. British media reported Sunday that the Foreign Office had confirmed the men played in the band. Viola Beach, from Warrington in northern England, had played a show in Norrköping Friday night as part of the "Where's the Music?" festival. The band had been scheduled to return to England for a show Saturday night.

Around 2:18 AM police were first alerted because a boom on a drawbridge over the Södertälje Canal on the northbound side of highway E4 was hanging in the roadway, according to daily tabloid Aftonbladet. En route to the scene police received a call from a witness who reported that a car had ridden off the bridge and into the canal below.

The Swedish Maritime Administration confirmed that the drawbridge, which lifts in one piece from its south-western end, had been raised to allow a vessel through. Police later said that the bridge was on its way down when the car flew off into the canal.

The car fell 25 meters before hitting the water. Divers first found two bodies in the car and another in the water soon after. It was only later in the day, after police became aware that there had been five passengers, that police said they found two more bodies in the canal.

Early Sunday police still said they did not know why the car drove off the road. The bridge has warning lights and booms to block traffic, which were functioning at the time of the accident according to the Swedish tabloid Expressen. Speaking with the AP a Stockholm police officer indicated that the road might have been slippery.

Swedish media have been reporting that the band's rental car drove through the boom. Expressen says the band only flew to Sweden Thursday and was scheduled to depart just hours after the band played a 9:30 PM show.

John Olsson, who plays guitar for the punk band Psykofant and who met the members of Viola Beach with their manager at the festival Friday night, said that his band had taken the same route back to Stockholm just an hour before Viola Beach left the venue.

"Yeah it was snowing on Friday and the roads were icy that night, actually," he said.

Olsson posted a picture on his band's Facebook page showing the four members of Viola Beach drinking a beer, but he said the manager turned down a drink. He said he had understood that the band was traveling to the airport.

"They were fantastic people. I never met them before, and I never heard of them before but I really took a shine to them. I was thinking to myself when I was standing and watching them that they're probably going to be pretty big, and this will be a cool story to tell people in the future that I spent the night with Viola Beach. But then I woke up today and heard about this. So sad," he said.

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