A couple who died after being knocked off their tandem by a hit-and-run driver had owned the bicycle for just a few weeks, it emerged today.
Ross Simons, 34, and his wife Clare, 30, were enjoying one of their first rides on the machine when they were struck by a Citroen Picasso which was fleeing the police.
Officers had ordered the car to pull over moments before the fatal collision in Hanham, Bristol, on Sunday afternoon.
The driver failed to stop but a 38-year-old man later handed himself into a police station and was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.
Friends today paid tribute to the couple and described them as the “best neighbours you could have”.
A neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said they were on their way for a meal at Clare’s parents’ house when tragedy struck.
He said: “They only bought the tandem a few weeks ago and hadn’t used it much.
“They previously had separate mountain bikes but they were stolen from the house so they bought the tandem to replace them.
“I think this was one of the first times they’d been out on it.
“Ross built a garage at the house to securely keep the tandem. I believe they were were heading to Clare’s family for tea when it happened.
“Both of their families live in that direction but I spoke to Clare’s dad yesterday evening and he was worried because he hadn’t heard from them and they hadn’t turned up for the meal.
“Ross’s dad called this morning and told me what had happened. He was extremely upset and crying down the phone.
“They were the best neighbours you could have, I’ve lived by them for five years and they were both lovely.
“I have two little ones and whenever they had a barbecue in the summer they would always ask us round.
“They were brilliant, you couldn’t ask for better neighbours. They would do anything for anyone. This is terrible news.
“It is such a dreadful thing to happen to such a lovely couple.”
The incident happened at 3.50pm on Sunday around two miles from the couple’s home in Staple Hill, Bristol.
A police patrol car ordered the Citroen to stop as it travelled along Lower Hanham Road at speed.
But the driver ignored the instruction and drove off – smashing into another vehicle before hitting Ross and Clare just moments later.
A spokeswoman said: “A police officer’s attention was drawn to a Citroen Picasso travelling along Lower Hanham Road at speed.
“The officer indicated to the car to stop but it made off. The officer began to follow the car but it was lost to sight almost immediately.
“Very shortly afterwards the car stuck another vehicle and then collided with two cyclists on a tandem bicycle.”
The couple sustained horrific injuries and both died at the scene despite attempts by paramedics to save their lives.
A spokesman for Great Western Ambulance Service said: “Unfortunately both the patients were beyond help at the scene.”
Police immediately began searching for the driver, who abandoned his car and left the scene by foot.
A 38-year-old man later handed himself in to a police station on Sunday night and was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.
Officers also arrested a 35-year-old woman on suspicion of dangerous driving.
The neighbour said the couple had been married for around two years and did not have any children together.
He added that Ross, a keen motocross rider, went to the gym every day and worked for his father Ed’s building firm.
Clare is believed to have worked as a shop assistant at a fashion shop in Bristol’s Cabot Circus shopping area.
Reverend Peter Cook, of Hanham Baptist Church, spoke to Ross’s father at the scene of the double tragedy yesterday morning.
He said: “He didn’t say very much, he was obviously overwhelmed by the tragedy of the situation. We just hugged. I have never met him before. I was such a wonderful guy.
“It is such a tragedy that it happened to this young couple who were so full of life and vitality, and according to friends this is the type of random thing that they did.
“They loved life and to see it cut short is a tragedy.
“Hanham is a nice, quiet area. It has a village feel to it. That something could happen on a Sunday afternoon and two lives could be cut short in that way…”
Inspector Frazer Davey from the Collision Investigation Team at Avon and Somerset police appealed for any witnesses to come forward.
He said: “Following investigations overnight the circumstances of this collision have become much clearer.
“However I would appeal to anyone who witnessed this incident or saw this car in the area shortly before the collision to come forward and contact us.”
Patrick Murphy, 56, landlord of nearby pub, the Queens Head, said he heard a helicopter flying overhead before officers arrived.
He said: “I have been here seven years and we have never had anything like this although it is a very busy road.
“Everyone is really shocked by what has happened.”
Resident Margaret Leonard. 62, who lives on the road, said there had been several accidents on the road.
But she added: “This is a terrible tragedy and it has shocked the whole village.”
Officers set up a cordon around the scene of the crash and closed the road, with two white tents erected in the street for crime scene investigators.