We fought so hard to save them - medics speak after crash on A47 at Wisbech claims lives of two sisters from Sutton Bridge

The scene of the crash, on the A47 at Wisbech. Picture: Chris Bishop The scene of the crash, on the A47 at Wisbech. Picture: Chris Bishop

Saturday, December 29, 2012
9:54 AM

Paramedics have told how they fought to save two little sisters killed in a crash on the A47.

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It came as the girls were named as Tamzin Portor, 10, and her seven-year-old sister Jessica, from Sutton Bridge.

Their 12-year-old brother Liam suffered minor injuries in the accident, along with their 38-year-old father Allan Portor, who was the front-seat passenger.

The 43-year-old woman driver, who was not the girls’ mother, also suffered minor injuries.

Ambulance crews were called to the scene when a rapid response car came across the crash by chance, just seconds after the black Ford Focus left the road at Walsoken, near Wisbech.

The sisters suffered severe head injuries when the car rolled and came to a rest on the edge of a drainage ditch at about 6.30pm on Thursday.

Firefighters freed the girls from the wreckage and paramedics treated them at the roadside, battling to resuscitate them.

But the children later died from their injuries at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn.

Carl Smith, an extended skills paramedic, was at home with his family when he received the call and arrived at the crash site minutes later.

“It was a devastating scene and not one we commonly come across,” he said. “It’s awful at any time of year, but it’s even worse at Christmas, especially when you have children of your own.

“Everyone just pulled together and worked really hard. The fire crews assisted us and we just got on with what needed to be done.”

Mr Smith, clinical operations manager for West Norfolk, said paramedic Jon Proctor had been travelling a few cars behind the Ford Focus in a rapid response vehicle when the crash happened.

“Jon had the hardest job,” he said. “He got out of the car and was faced with absolute devastation, but he stayed calm.

“He had two seriously injured children and three other casualties to deal with and had to relay information to ambulance control so they could mobilise the rest of us.”

Mr Smith also praised the QEH, which had two trauma teams ready to treat the girls when they arrived, and West Norfolk operations manager David Smart who managed the scene.

“We were very sad to hear they had died,” he added. “We do whatever we can for people, but sometimes their injuries are so serious they aren’t going to survive despite our best efforts.”

Police said the Focus left the road, ending up on its side at the edge of a ditch, near the junction with Broadend Road, between the Elme Hall and Lynn Road roundabouts at around 6.30pm.

A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service said: “Five ambulances, one air ambulance, plus clinical managers in rapid response cars attended the scene.

“Crews worked hard in very difficult circumstances but despite sterling efforts they were sadly unable to save the two children.

“This was an incredibly tragic incident and our deepest sympathies are with their family and loved ones.”

The car crashed close to the corner of an orchard, ploughing through brambles and smashing through a wooden gate as it overturned.

Specialist crash investigators are still trying to establish why the Focus left the road, while checks will also be carried out to establish whether the car had any defects.

Chief Insp Chris Spinks, head of road policing in Norfolk and Suffolk, visited the crash scene yesterday.

“Fatal collisions are tragic in any circumstances but given the fact that two young lives have been lost at this time of year seems to make it that much worse,” he said.

“Specially trained family liaison officers are supporting the bereaved relatives and collision investigation officers are piecing together the events that led to the crash.

“The circumstances are still unclear at this stage and I would ask anyone who thinks they might have information, no matter how insignificant it may seem, to come forward.”

An inquest into the girls’ death is due to be opened in Norwich on New Year’s Eve.

The A47 was closed in both directions after the crash and was re-opened shortly before 10.30pm.

Witnesses are asked to call Sergeant Peter Howlett at Swaffham Roads Policing on 101.

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