The devastated family of a Blackpool couple killed in a horror crash while on holiday in America today said they have been left “heartbroken” by the tragedy.
Grandparents-of-three Brenda and Edward McElroy, from South Shore, died after they were both struck by a pick-up truck while crossing a five lane freeway in Barboursville, West Virginia.
Mr and Mrs McElroy, aged 76 and 70, had been planning their trip for the last six months and flew out last Monday.
The crash happened just after they arrived at their hotel the following day. It is believed they were crossing the road to get to a restaurant which had been recommended to them.
Mrs McElroy’s sister Eileen Dobson today paid tribute to the couple, saying they were happy and outgoing.
She said: “It’s heartbreaking. They were so full of life and they’d planned to go and see a friend out there.
“They had just got there. The hotel was on one side of the freeway, they asked the manager to recommend somewhere to eat and then they got killed crossing the road.
“They both died instantly.
“It was a five-lane freeway. Apparently it is a notoriously dangerous place (to cross) and local residents were campaigning to get lights put there.”
The crash happened at 8.15pm local time on Tuesday, but the McElroy’s family were not informed until the following day.
Mrs Dobson, 66, of Sandhills Avenue, South Shore, added: “I was away in the Lake District on business and the police came to the door and told my husband what had happened
“It’s terrible. We had only just had a bit of a party to celebrate Edward’s birthday, which was on the Friday before they left. They were looking forward to their holiday.
“They were both very outgoing and friendly and they went to America quite a lot to visit friends.”
West Virginia-based news channel WSAZ reported Mike Stephenson, manager of the Best Western motel, where the couple were staying, said the McElroys had gone to the front desk minutes before the accident to ask where they could go for dinner.
Following the crash witnesses reported a nurse attempted to give first aid to the couple, but it was too late.
The eastbound lanes of the road – known as Route 60 – were closed for several hours while police and ambulance crews attended the scene.
The driver of the pick-up truck – a 56-year-old woman – was treated for shock in hospital after the incident.
Sgt Larry D’Alessi, from the local police force, said there were no charges pending against the driver.
The mayor of Barboursville, Paul Turman, said he would talk to the department of highways to see if any lessons could be learned from the tragedy.
He said: “One thing that has come up that would be helpful is to try and help with the lighting in the area.
“It’s unfortunate and we are saddened by it.”
The McElroys, who lived at Glencross Place, first met at the yacht club at Starr Gate and later married in Canada.
Mrs McElroy worked on the customer service desk at Morrisons, off Squires Gate Lane, and the nearby Dunelm Mill store before her retirement.
Mr McElroy, who was known as Ted, worked across the world as a loss adjuster in locations as diverse as London, Nigeria and Canada.
Later in his career, Mr McElroy was employed as a civil servant for the DWP at Norcross, before working as a rides operator at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and as a taxi driver.
The couple are survived by daughter Gillian, 49, and son Steven, 42 – as well as grandchildren Natasha, Chloe and Lewis.
Gillian flew to the USA after being informed of her parents’ death.
The McElroys were involved with The Windmill Players amateur dramatics group, in Thornton, and also played bowls at Watson Road park. Mr McElroy was also a well-known model railway enthusiast.
Next door neighbour, Paul Parkinson, said: “I’ve known them for a long time and it’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard of.”
A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We are aware of the deaths of Edward and Brenda McElroy in the US. We are in contact and are providing consular assistance.”
Pictures courtesy of WSAZ News Channel.