Detectives today (tues) are continuing to investigate the unexplained deaths of a young couple found dead in a car following a ‘chemical incident’.
The bodies of Nikki Willis and her boyfriend Tom Putt, both in their 20s, were discovered in a brand new blue Ford Fiesta just after 11am on Monday.
The car was parked outside the home Nikki shares with her mother Michelle Hindson, 46, and stepfather Stuart Hindson, 45, in Chelmsford, Essex.
A police probe was launched into the incident which was said to involve ‘hazardous substances’, and the scene was later declared no risk to the public.
Essex Police have so far refused to confirm whether the incident is being treated as suicide or if they are looking for anyone else in connection with what happened.
Tributes have since been paid to Nikki, who worked in electronics shop CeX, and Tom, an apprentice for Ford Motor Company, who she is said to have been dating for around six months.
Tom’s friend, Josh Hunter, met him through the Ford enthusiasts scene and both owned Fiestas.
He said: “I knew him through the motors, he was a genuinely nice bloke. He’d been going out with his girlfriend for about six months.
“I can’t really say he was the sort of person (to take drugs).
“He was never into drugs or anything. He was a good person to go out with and have a laugh. He loved his Ford Fiesta ST.”
Another friend, Ben Henderson, paid tribute on Facebook to his “very good friend”.
He said: “This is the first ever time I’ve ever had to write something like this and it doesn’t come easy.
“My very good friend Tom Putt and Nicki (sic) sadly lost their lives today. Tom was always there to help me and has been such a good friend to me and always there when I needed him and was a friend that I could always rely on.
“Helped me out so much with my Fiesta and also my E30 and always helped me work on my cars and get his hands dirty.
“No person should be taken away from us at such a young age and my heart and thoughts go out to all the family and friends and everyone who had the absolute pleasure of knowing Tom and Nikki.
“You shouldn’t take life for granted as you never know what might happen in such a quick space of time.
“Tom, I am so proud to of known you and had the pleasure of calling you my friend.
I will miss you dearly mate x”
“You never failed to cheer me up or say something stupid when I needed it. I can’t believe your (sic) gone. I didn’t know you Nikki but my thoughts are with your family.”
Paying tribute to Nikki, Tyler Joslin said: “R.i.p nikki so gutted to hear that you are gone really am you were such a good person and an amazing friend sleep tight angel (sic) my thoughts go out to all her family xxx”
Sara Higginson added: “R.i.p Nikki Willis can’t believe it. May you rest in peace.
“You will never be forgotten and will be very sadly missed. Thought (sic) are with your family. Xxxxx”
Nearby residents described hearing a “loud bang” which sounded like an exhaust moments after the couple were seen sitting talking in the vehicle which had the engine running.
An eyewitness who saw them said: “I was walking down the road this morning and saw these two people in this blue Ford Fiesta.
“I didn’t think anything about it. The engine was running and they were chatting.
“The woman was in the passenger seat and the bloke was in the driver’s seat.
“I didn’t think anything about it. I just carried on walking past.”
On Monday night, the road remained cordoned off with police tape.
Essex Police confirmed they were treating the matter as a ‘chemical incident’ and added: “Their deaths are being treated as unexplained at this time.
“Enquiries are ongoing into the circumstances surrounding their deaths and police remain at the scene.”
A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) said: “We dispatched our hazardous area response team (HART), two ambulance crews, three ambulance officers, and a rapid response vehicle.
“At the scene there were two patients involved who were sadly pronounced dead.”