Police have named five people who died in a two-vehicle collision on the A96 between Keith and Huntly last Thursday.
The youngest of the casualties was four-year-old Lorenzo Ciociola from Sicily. The boy was a passenger in the Fiat minibus along with 63-year-old Frances Saliba Patanè who also died from the collision.
The other three people named by police were Edward Reid, 63, from Macduff, Evalyn Collie, 69, from Aberchirder and Audrey Appleby, 70, also from Aberchirder were the occupants of the Nissan X-Trail.
Specialist Police family liaison officers are supporting each family affected and we have been working closely with the Honorary Consulate of Italy in Aberdeen.
A 33-year-old woman who was a passenger in the minibus remains in a critical condition in hospital. The 45-year-old male driver also remains in hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries, along with a male passenger aged 70. The three-year-old continues to be well cared for after sustaining minor injuries.
The 39-year-old female driver of the Nissan is receiving treatment for serious but not life-threatening injuries.
Deputy Head of Road Policing Superintendent Louise Blakelock said: “This has been a difficult and distressing time for everyone affected by this tragedy and the sympathy expressed by communities over the past few days has been overwhelming.
“We have learned of countless individuals going above and beyond to provide assistance and comfort to those in need – from acts of bravery and compassion at the scene of the collision to invaluable support in the aftermath. On behalf of Police Scotland and our partners, a sincere thank you.”
She added: “Our investigation continues into the incident itself and once again I would appeal to anyone with information to get in touch. Particularly we are trying to verify the movements of each vehicle in the lead-up to the collision.
“From our enquiries so far we believe the occupants of the white Fiat minibus had been travelling north through Scotland and were in the Tayside area around 6pm that evening. The occupants of the orange Nissan X-Trail had left an event in Elgin before heading south on the A96.
“I wish to appeal to any motorists with dash-cam footage who were on the A96 that evening around the time of the collision – regardless of whether you think you have captured the vehicles or not – to get in touch. I would also like to thank everyone who has contacted us so far.
“My thoughts and those of my colleagues in Police Scotland and our partners continue to be with everyone who has been affected by this tragedy, including the families involved and those who are recovering in hospital.”
The family of Edward Reid released the following statement: “We are heartbroken that Edward (Ted) was tragically taken from us on July 26.
“Ted was a devoted husband, dad, granda, brother and friend. He will be remembered for his selfless loving nature and will be sorely missed by all.
“As a family we respectfully ask for privacy at this time.”
The family of Evalyn Collie released the following statement: “The family would like to thank the emergency services, members of the public and the others involved in helping at the scene in the early hours of Friday morning.
“We would also like to thank the Policeman and Family Liaison officer assigned to our family for the professional way they have conducted themselves and the help they have given to us at this difficult time.
“We wish to pass on our condolences and deepest sympathy to all the families who lost family members in this horrific and tragic incident and hope those injured make a speedy and full recovery.
“We have lost a beautiful lady, we now request that we are given the time and privacy to grieve and come to terms with our tragic loss.”
The family of Frances Saliba Patanè has released a statement saying: “Frances was born and educated in Birzebbuga, Malta, before moving to Siracusa following her marriage to an Italian man. She was a loving wife and a caring mother and grandmother.
“Frances was also highly respected for the passion and devotion she used in her job as an English teacher. She was in Scotland to celebrate her 63rd birthday, which tragically happened on the same day of the crash.
“We would like to thank all the kind staff of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and other emergency services for their support.”
The family of Lorenzo Ciociola said: “The Ciociola and Passanisi families have been devastated by the tragic and untimely death of little Lorenzo.
“Although your life has been cut short you have filled our own lives with joy – now you are our little angel in heaven.
“You will be forever close to our hearts and will continue to live on in the fond memory of your mum, dad and little brother Federico.
“We would like to express our thanks to all emergency services and staff at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary for their support.”