Man and woman die in car chemical tragedy

A MAN and a woman found dead in a car in an apparent suicide involving a dangerous chemical left notes on the vehicle warning others not to open the doors, it emerged this afternoon.

Crews from Braintree, two from Halstead, one from Colchester and another from Chelmsford were called at 8.25am to the scene at Braintree Enterprise Centre in Springwood Drive.

Divisional Officer Ray Skinner, Incident Liaison Officer at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, has confirmed that two fatalities - a man and a woman - were discovered in a car.

He said they believe the chemical involved is hydrogen sulphide, but added tests were being carried out to determine the exact chemical discovered.

It is understood the chemical had been created by mixing two other substances. At a press conference this afternoon, officials said it was a highly unusual case.

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A man turning up to work at one of the industrial units raised the alarm this morning, alerting the emergency services.

Susan Meads, administrator of the centre, said home-made signs had been placed on the 2007 blue Vauxhall Astra at the centre of the incident.

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“The people in question have posted signs on the windows of the vehicle to say there’s toxic chemicals inside and not to open the door,” she said. “I believe they have been made on a computer.”

At around 2.30pm, fire crews in gas tight suits were preparing the move the bodies from the car and eliminate the chemicals, making the area safe.

At 4.30pm, a fire service spokesman said one body had been removed from the car and crews were in the process of recovering the second.

By 4.50pm both bodies had been removed from the car.

Ms Meads said the bodies were discovered by a man who pulled up alongside the vehicle at about 7.30am.

“He thought it was suspicious so he called a colleague, who is an ex-police officer,” she said.

“Then they called the emergency services.”

She said dozens of firefighters, paramedics and police were at the scene.

The vehicle, in a car park on the site, remains sealed off as investigations continue, she said.

“I arrived for work just as the police were arriving,” she added.

“I just think it’s a very tragic thing. It’s a very sad world we live in.”

The majority of the 30 businesses on the site have been evacuated.

Mr Skinner said: “Chemicals are involved in the incident but there is no risk to the public as the car is in a remote location at the end of an industrial estate.

“The area is now a Police crime scene and once medical experts have had a chance to do their work, the fire service will be assisting Police with recovery at the scene.”

Essex Police said the deaths were not being treated as suspicious.

A police spokesman said units on the Braintree Enterprise Centre, where the car was found, had been evacuated.

She said a “noxious substance” was found inside the car.

A spokeswoman for the Essex ambulance confirmed that no other people at the scene have required any medical treatment.

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