Rustington mourns the loss of an ‘irreplaceable couple’

Police are still appealing for witnesses to the crash'PHOTO: Eddie Mitchell
Police are still appealing for witnesses to the crash'PHOTO: Eddie Mitchell

HEARTBROKEN neighbours in Rustington have spoken of their devastating loss of ‘two of the kindest people’ they have known.

Last week Sussex Police named Robert and Janice O’Keeffe, of Cheam Road, as the couple killed in a tragic head-on crash on the A280 Long Furlong road, last month.

Now, neighbours who knew them best have paid loving tribute to the couple who ‘would do anything for anyone’.

Pam Warren and her husband Peter had been friends with Robert, 69, and Janice, 70, for about four years.

Describing the pair, a grief-stricken Mrs Warren, 72, said: “They were the nicest, most friendly and helpful husband and wife that you could come across.

“They were always willing to help and were just two of the most lovely people you could ever hope to meet.

“They never had a bad word to say about anyone.”

Other neighbours, who did not wish to be named as the situation was still a traumatic one for them, said: “We were absolutely devastated when we heard the news. We didn’t know how to react.

“Robert liked a joke. They both had a terrific sense of humour. They had a real love for life and they absolutely loved their fox terrier, Henry. They’re just irreplaceable.”

Mr and Mrs O’Keeffe, who are understood to have originally been from the Horsham area, were on the final few miles of a return journey, having spent a week holidaying in the Cotswolds, when the tragedy happened.

They collided with a white Ford Ranger pick-up at about 4.40pm on Friday, October 24.

The couple were pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

However, miraculously the couple’s pet dog survived the crash without injury.

Speaking of the moment she discovered about her friends’ death, Mrs Warren said: “It was most odd because they had not arrived home when we had expected.

“When we heard why, we were in a state of complete and utter shock. I haven’t taken it all in properly yet. I still expect to see them home, with Rob walking his dog down the street. It’s a tragedy.”

The couple had no children. Janice was a member of the Rustington WI.

Their funeral will be held on Wednesday at Worthing Crematorium, at 2.20pm.

Police are urging witnesses to contact them by emailing collision.appeal@sussex.pnn.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting Operation Clapham.