North Cyprus minister in mourning after relative killed in London smash

A senior politician in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) was in mourning this week after a close relative was killed by a pensioner driving the wrong way down a major road in East London.

Tourism and Environment Minister Fikri Ataoğlu was left grief-stricken after receiving news that Ruşit Ataoğlu had died in the horror accident during the early hours of New Year’s Eve, according to TRNC media.

A report by Turkish Cypriot daily Kıbrıs said that Ruşit was the minister’s cousin. It added that his body is to be brought back to North Cyprus for burial in his home village of Avtepe, once British police have completed their investigation into the incident.

Ruşit had been driving along the A13 in Dagenham in the early hours of New Year’s Eve, when he was involved in a head-on collision. Both drivers were killed, although police have yet to name the victims.

Officers had been called to reports of a car travelling in the wrong direction but were unable to intercept it before the accident occurred.

“Police were called to the Witch’s Hat junction of the A13 in Dagenham at 01.45hrs on Monday, December 31, to reports of a car travelling the wrong way down the carriageway,” a Met Police spokeswoman told T-VINE.

“Shortly afterwards, the car was involved in a collision with a taxi heading in the opposite direction.

“Officers and LAS [London Ambulance Service] attended the scene. Despite the efforts of paramedics, the driver of the vehicle travelling in the wrong direction, a woman aged 71, and the taxi driver, aged in his 40s, both died as a result of their injuries.

“Next of kin have been informed. All roads have now been re-opened.”

In happier times: Ruşit Ataoğlu captures and posts on Facebook a photo of his cousin, TRNC Tourism and Environment Minister Fikri Ataoğlu with his uncle, Ruşit’s late father Cafe (centre)

A Just Giving page has been set up by Atiye Etherington to raise money for Ruşit Ataoğlu’s family, “a mother and two children who sadly lost their husband and dad in a tragic road accident”.

“Words cannot describe how overwhelmed we are all feeling at this sad time,”Ms Etherington wrote.

Ms Etherington said that she had increased the target from £1,000 to £5,000 after receiving an “absolutely mind blowing”response. Over £1,700 has now been raised.

“Your generous donations have been absolutely mind blowing. At the request of Save Taxi’s, Sherbet cabs and other major fleets I have been asked to raise the fundraising amount to £5,000.

“I honestly cannot thank you all enough. You are all amazing! This money will help the family so much. Thank you all so much, be lucky boys and girls and be safe. God bless you and all of your loved ones too xxxxx.”

Taxi driver Ruşit Ataoğlu died in a head-on collision in early hours of 31 Dec. 2018

Ms Etherington added that while Ruşit “was not a black cab driver” he had been“in the industry for many years and has worked with many cab drivers in many garages”.

She continued: “The tragic death has devastated the family. His wife and two young children are distraught. The kind messages and condolences have been heart warming.

“Many people and cab drivers have suggested raising money for the family at this sad time therefore we thought it would be a good idea to create this crowdfunding page. Thank you all in advance.”

Those donating money left online messages of sympathy.

“Sorry to hear about the tragic loss of Ruşit,” wrote one person. “My heart goes out to his family and all those who mourn him.”

Another person wrote: “What a tragic accident and at that time of year too. Hope the donations go towards making this family’s grief a little easier to deal with.”

A Just Giving user called Terry Jackson said: “I’m a London taxi driver of 26 years. I’m so sorry to hear of you and your family’s tragic loss.”

One mourner said: “RIP Ruşit abi, devastating news for all who knew and loved you praying for strength for your family x.”