Update: Tributes to Jean Freeborn, 81, who died in tragic Emerson Park crash

A trip to the shops ended in tragedy for an 81-year-old grandmother when the car she was in was involved in an horrific collision.

Jean Freeborn was travelling with her husband Ron, 83, last Friday morning when the crash happened in Sylvan Avenue, Emerson Park. Their car ended up hitting a tree.

Builders working on a nearby house desperately tried to free people from the cars involved before the fire brigade arrived. An air amublance medical team worked on Mrs Freeborn at the roadside before flying her to the Royal London Hospital where she died of head injuries later the same day.

Mrs Freeborn lived with her husband in Elmdene Avenue, Emerson Park, and the close-knit community has been rocked by the death of the “caring and trusting” grandmother-of-three.

Mrs Freeborn’s widower Ron said: “She was all I wanted. She was a very, very caring person.

You may also want to watch:

“She’d worked in a health shop and she was always one for certain medicines. The moment there was anything wrong with me, she knew what to take.”

The couple’s Peugeot 206 was in collision with a Nissan Qashqai 4x4. The Freeborns’ car hit a tree after the collision and the couple became trapped. A parked car was also hit during the accident.

Most Read

The Nissan was being driven by a 33-year-old woman, who was treated for minor injuries at Queen’s Hospital, Romford, along with her one-year-old son. She was later arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving and taken to Romford police station, where she was released on bail.

Said Mr Freeborn: “We loved it round here. It’s a nice friendly neighbourhood – we all get on very well. I’ve enjoyed it but it’s all come to an end as far as I’m concerned because she was my everything.”

Mrs Freeborn was born and raised in East Ham, and met her husband at a Butlin’s social club. The pair had been married for 61 years, and moved to Elmdene Avenue in the 1970s.

They have a son, Martin, and granddaughters Laura, Lindsay and Megan.

A neighbour who did not wish to be named said Mrs Freeborn’s death had hit the community hard. “Because it’s a small road we all feel it,” she said. “You can feel the atmosphere – it’s very subdued.

“It’s hard to accept she’s here one minute and then gone the next. She was always laughing – a very jolly lady.”

Builder Lance Bedford, 47, and his colleagues tried to get the crash victims out of their cars with hammers and a shovel before the fire brigade arrived.

“There was a big pool of petrol,” he said, “and we were worried it might explode. We couldn’t get the man’s door open but then the fire brigade came and cut them out.”

Officers at Chadwell Heath Road Death Investigation Unit are appealing for witnesses. In particular, they would like to speak to two men believed to have been in a van who came to help.

Anyone with information is asked to call the police on 020 8597 4874.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter