Survivor of crash that killed wife and three children pays tribute as he looks to 'uncertain future'

Victoria Ward
·4 min read
Zoe and Joshua Powell with three of their children - Sarah Mak Photography
Zoe and Joshua Powell with three of their children - Sarah Mak Photography

A man who survived the car crash that killed his wife and three young children has acknowledged the many battles to come as he faces an "uncertain future".

Josh Powell, 30, from Chinnor, South Oxfordforshire, said he would "reflect on the fun that we had as a family, with feelings of sadness that it was cut so short". He paid tribute to those who had "rushed to put their arms around" him and his 18-month-old daughter Penny, who also survived the crash.

Mr Powell's wife Zoe, a 29-year-old blogger and illustrator, and their eight-year-old daughter Phoebe were pronounced dead at the scene when their Subaru people carrier "crumbled like a can" after colliding with an HGV on the A40 on October 12. The couple's six-year-old Simeon and daughter Amelia, four, died shortly afterwards in hospital.

Mr Powell and Penny were rushed to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford where they remain in a stable condition.

The 56-year-old lorry driver, who suffered minor injuries, is helping police with their inquiries and has provided a witness statement. No arrests have been made.

In a statement issued through Thames Valley Police, Mr Powell, a civil engineer, paid tribute to his wife and children, who were active members of Chinnor Community Church.

"I had been blessed with four wonderful children, whose thirst for life and hunger for adventure kept me busy but in the best possible way," he said. "As I look to an uncertain future, I reflect on the fun that we had as a family, with feelings of sadness that it was cut so short."

Mr Powell described his wife, who wrote a blog about motherhood and sold her own illustrated gifts and stationary, as "a dreamer", saying: "Myself and Zoe were as different as we were alike. Despite the frequent tensions this would bring, it was of immense benefit having such differing world views.

"Our children benefited from this in having adventures but also the quiet to talk. Zoe was a dreamer, with a head spinning with new things to do or tales to tell. More than anything, we made a great partnership to raise a family."

Zoe and Joshua Powell with their three elder children
Zoe and Joshua Powell with their three elder children

Mr Powell also shared moving words about each of his children. He said Phoebe was "the model of her mother" who enjoyed exploring the world, adding: "She was clever and able to make great jumps of imagination – her great creations in Lego are testament to this."

He described Simeon as being "just like his father" with "a mischievous sense of humour and desire to know more of the world" and said: "A keen sportsman, he had been due to play in his first football match this week. He shared the kind heart of his sisters and wouldn't be happier than when he knew that everyone was OK."

Amelia, Mr Powell said, was "kind and spirited" and had "tenderness and thoughtfulness much more advanced than her years". He added: "Her ability to dance and express herself was a true blessing, with an abundance of self-confidence. Tied down by no element of practicality, she had the most vivid imagination."

Mr Powell said he and Penny had been well supported and knew they only had to ask for anything they might need.

He said: "As a family that have always preferred understated calm and brevity, it has been a revelation the benefit of the deep wider relationships now I've lost my immediate nuclear family. Now we have the time to readjust and grieve, this is the challenge of the abundance of loss we feel as a family.

"Thank you to those who have respected our space and supported us thus far, and given us the time and space to do this."

The tragedy came months after the Powell family "lost everything" when they were forced into temporary accommodation following a fire at their home.

A crowdfunding page set up by a railway worker colleague of Mr Powell's has raised over £125,000.

Anyone with dashcam footage or information about the crash is asked to contact police.