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DITCH DEATH: 'They came for a better future'

A FAMILY'S dream of building a better future for themselves in Peterborough came cruelly to an end when a car plunged into the icy waters of a Fen drain.

A FAMILY'S dream of building a better future for themselves in Peterborough came cruelly to an end when a car plunged into the icy waters of a Fen drain.

Today, there was sadness and tears in a close knit community of people who have set up home in the city, as people grieved for Jose Marmeleria (49) and the tragedy that befell his family on a notorious road.

Jose, who came to Peterborough from Portugal three years ago and set up home in Harris Street, close to the city centre, was one of three people who died when the car he was travelling to work in careered into the river following a collision at Forty Foot Bank, near Ramsey, yesterday.

Miraculously, his son Miguel (19) managed to escape through the smashed windscreen, as the Hyundai car sank to the bottom of the 16ft deep drain.

In a twist of fate, Miguel's mother, Maria (47), had felt ill yesterday and did not go with her husband and son to work at an onion-packing factory near Chatteris.

Police today confirmed that Carlos De Oliveira (46) had died in the crash. Female passenger Cidalina Oliveira was also understood to have died. Both had lived with the Marmeleria family, and also worked at the Rustler Produce factory.

Miguel was treated at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, in Huntingdon, for cuts and bruises and then allowed home.

As details of the disaster emerged today, there was sorrow that this tragedy could have befallen a hard-working and friendly family.

When Jose arrived in the city, his aim was to find a place to live and get a job. His joy was complete when he was able to send for Maria and Miguel to join him last year.

Jose got help when he first arrived in Peterborough from Solomao da Silva (29) who runs a hairdressing salon in Cromwell Road. Today, he recalled: "I was a member of the Peterborough Portuguese Association and when Jose arrived he contacted it for help. He had no money and nowhere to live, so we gave him some advice.

"I last saw him about 10 days ago in a coffee shop in Lincoln Road, but he was not seen out often because he was a very hard worker."

Antonio Reis (46), who runs the Marisquiera Portuguese restaurant, in Cromwell Road, said: "Jose was my friend, and he will be badly missed. It seemed everybody in the Portuguese community knew Jose or Maria well. We are all in shock."

Nuno Santos, of Crown Street, team leader of the Portuguese workers, said: "There is great sorrow in the community."

The 31-year-old man who was driving the blue Vauxhall Cavalier involved in the collision was given a lift to Peterborough District Hospital for treatment. He was arrested at the hospital on suspicion of dangerous driving and has been bailed to return to Thorpe Wood police station on April 5.

Sgt Steve Edwards has appealed for witnesses.

• Anyone with information should call 0845 456 4564.

 

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