Family pay tribute to couple whose car was swept away in River Trent

Bodies of John and Patricia Lillistone recovered 13 days after car was seen entering river in Nottinghamshire

John and Patricia Lillistone were in a car that was seen entering the river at Hoveringham on 1 February.
John and Patricia Lillistone were in a car that was seen entering the river at Hoveringham on 1 February

A couple who died after their car was swept away in the River Trent in Nottinghamshire this month have been named as John and Patricia Lillistone.

John, 83, and Patricia, 82, were in a car that was seen entering the water at Hoveringham, between Newark and Nottingham, on the evening of 1 February.

After a two-week search, hindered by high water levels, their bodies were recovered from the river on Saturday.

A formal identification has taken place and the couple’s family have paid tribute to the “wonderful” grandparents, from Lowdham in Nottinghamshire.

The family said in a statement: “John and Patricia were loving, caring parents and grandparents who were always there for family and friends.

“Our family is devastated by the loss of two wonderful people and they will be dearly missed by all. We have many happy memories of our time spent together that we will cherish forever.

“We would like to thank the emergency services and other agencies involved for their tireless effort and support at this very difficult time.”

Specialist officers had been searching the river since the car was seen entering the water, with witnesses reporting seeing two people inside.

Sonar equipment was used to locate the vehicle on the riverbed days later but it had not been accessible because of fast-flowing water. After an assessment of the site, a specialist police dive team entered the river at about 10.30am on Saturday and was able to recover the bodies.

Insp Tim Ringer, who led the recovery operation, said: “Our thoughts remain with the family of the deceased, who have asked for their privacy to be respected at what I know is an immensely difficult time.”

Nottinghamshire police, in partnership with the Environment Agency, had used sonar technology and an underwater drone to identify the location of the vehicle, which has also now been removed from the water.

Councillor Roger Jackson, who represents the Southwell ward on Nottinghamshire county council, told Nottinghamshire Live: “It’s very, very tragic what has happened.

“We don’t know what the circumstances are around it, but it’s awful for everybody involved. My heart goes out to their family. I have been speaking to the local parish council and highways team to see whether we need to do some work to see if we can stop it from happening again.

“It was quite traumatic for those that witnessed it – I understand some residents saw what was happening – but there was absolutely nothing they could do. That will play on people’s minds.”

A file will be prepared for the coroner.