Helena Bonham anguish after four of her family die safari bus smash

Posted on 10:09 AM by Sameer Shah

Actress Helena Bonham Carter was last night devastated after four of her relatives were killed in a safari holiday minibus crash.

The minibus, carrying the family party through the remote South African bush, is thought to have spun out of control and flipped over when a tyre burst.

The youngest victim was 14-year-old Marcus Egerton-Warburton who is the son of the actress's cousin, Fiona Bonham Carter, 51.

The schoolboy was in the minibus with his mother, who managed to climb free from the wreckage with a broken collar bone.

His 16-year-old brother Piers suffered whiplash injuries in the crash, which happened on Wednesday, six hours drive from Johannesburg.

Fiona's mother and Helena's aunt, Brenda Bonham Carter, 74, and her husband Francis Kirkwood, 75, were killed along with the teenager.

The fourth victim is thought to be Kay Boardman, the wife of Fiona's brother Graham Bonham Carter, 48, who was also in the minibus. It is the second time he has narrowly escaped death.

In 1991 he survived an IRA litter bin bomb blast which exploded just yards from where he was stranding in London's Victoria Station.

The couple married only a year ago. Kay was due to celebrate her 55th birthday on September 1.

Eton schoolboy Marcus was a keen sailor who belonged to Bembridge Sailing Club on the Isle of Wight.

His father Charlie, head of UK and Ireland private banking at Credit Suisse, is a prominent member of the club and was previously club captain.

Secretary Mike Samuelson said the club was devastated by the news. 'He was a delightful boy,' he said.

'It's tragic. Marcus had spent two to three weeks here with his father before he went on holiday,' he said. 'He was a keen sailor.'

The club announced the boy's death on its website on Thursday.

It stated: 'It is with the very greatest sadness that I have to inform you that Marcus Egerton-Warburton tragically died in a road accident in South Africa at around 4pm on Wednesday 20th August.

'They were in a mini-bus travelling between game reserves at the time of the accident.'

Mr Samuelson said Marcus' father flew to South Africa on hearing the news, adding that Marcus and his brother Piers were 'his love and life'.

Mr Egerton-Warburton, who is estranged from his wife, is head of onshore private banking for the UK and Ireland at Credit Suisse.

A Johannesburg police source said the minibus had been hired by the family and was being driven by a local guide.

The survivors were taken to Johannesburg General Hospital where they were treated for their injuries.

Last night Marcus' friends paid tribute to him on social networking site Facebook.

George Wilders wrote: 'RIP Marcus....xx'. George Whitaker said that he 'is trying and failing to recover will miss u marcie R.I.P'.

Henri Ashe-Taylor wrote that he was 'depressed about marcus. Just cant get over it.' And friend Freddie Wheeler wrote: 'we will always love you'.

Another grieving friend left the message: 'I can't believe. I just can't believe it. One of the nicest guys in Eton. Will always miss you Markie boy. Love you forever.'

At the former south London home of Graham’s mother Fiona a family friend spoke of her grief.

Rome Godwin said she had known Brenda and Francis for 25 years. She said: 'They were lovely, enjoyable people.

‘I am in complete shock. They have moved away now but spend a lot of time in South Africa.’

The Foreign Office said that four people had been killed in a car crash in South Africa.

A spokesman said last night: 'I can confirm that four British nationals have died in a road traffic accident in South Africa on August 20.'

She was unable to confirm any further details.

Helena Bonham-Carter, now 42, shot to fame as a teenager for her portrayal of Lucy Honeychurch in the Merchant Ivory production of A Room with a View in 1985.

The great grand-daughter of British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, she is best-known for her Oscar-nominated role as Kate Croy in The Wings of the Dove and BAFTA-nominated performance in Howard's End.

Keen to branch out from period dramas, she has starred to critical acclaim in Fight Club, Planet of the Apes and most recently the Harry Potter films.

The actress lives with her husband, director Tim Burton in North London, and they have two children, Billy Ray, four, and Nell, eight months.

Miss Bonham Carter's UK agents were not available for comment.

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