Tribute to landslide death couple

Tribute to landslide death couple

Beaminster Tunnel, Dorset, where two people were killed in a landslide

The Beaminster Tunnel where a car was buried by a landslide

First published in National News © by

A police force that failed to find an elderly couple who lay dead in their car for up to 10 days following a landslide is to refer the matter to the police watchdog.

Rosemary Snell, who was in her 60s, and her male companion - named locally as Michael Rolfe - were killed on July 7 when their silver Skoda was flattened in a tunnel by hundreds of tons of mud and rubble.

The couple, who were both from Somerset, were making their way home following a romantic meal at the Bridge House Hotel when the landslide engulfed their car as they passed through Beaminster Tunnel in Dorset.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has now announced Dorset Police will be sending details of the case to the watchdog for it to consider.

A tweet released by the IPCC said: "Dorset Police will be referring the Beaminster tunnel landslip deaths. This will be assessed and a decision made about the mode of investigation."

Dorset Police were unavailable to comment on the referral to the IPCC.

Police said one body was found on Tuesday and a second was believed to be inside the car after the fire service located the vehicle on Monday night.

Dorset Police has confirmed that both bodies have now been recovered after the car was removed to a police station in Weymouth to allow further work to take place.

Inquiries by Avon and Somerset Police traced the couple to the Beaminster area on the night of the landslide after a missing persons investigation was launched. The A3066 road, which runs through the tunnel, has been closed since the landslide and Dorset Police were facing questions to why it took 10 days to locate the car.

Details of the couple's last minutes have emerged after a restaurant worker said they were eager to get home. Jane Fox, 61, who served the couple at the restaurant, said they decided to skip having coffee in order to avoid the appalling weather. She said Ms Snell's companion paid the bill in the hotel's restaurant, the Beaminster Brasserie, before the pair headed to their car.

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