A father-of-two killed in a ‘head-on’ crash when a pensioner drove the ‘wrong way down a road’ has been named as family and friends pay tribute.
Former taxi driver Rusit Ataoglu, 40, is believed to have been the cabbie who was struck by another vehicle being driven by a woman in her 70s on the A13.
They both died at the scene of the incident near Dagenham which happened at around 1.45am in the early hours of New Year’s Eve.
Mr Ataoglu was identified by media in North Cyprus as one of the victims. Police are yet to confirm his name or the woman’s.
However, friends and family of Mr Ataoglu have paid tribute to him, including his mother-in-law who shared a video of Rusit on social media and described his wife and two children as "heartbroken".
It is believed Mr Ataoglu was a relation of Fikri Ataoğlu – Minister of Tourism and Environment for the Northern Cypriot government, reports Essex Live.
A family member wrote online: "May God give you the blessing of your place, my nephew."
Another friend also posted a photo of him on Facebook saying: "My dear friend from the village of Avtepe, Rusit Ataoğlu has passed away.
"My condolences to the family and fans of the deceased from God.
"May God have mercy on him. May he rest in peace."
A JustGiving page has also been set up to help raise money for Rusit’s grieving family.
The page reads: "This is for a man who sadly lost his life in a tragic road accident at 1.45am on New Year’s Eve.
"Although the man was not a black cab driver, he has been in the industry for many years and has worked with many cab drivers in many garages.
"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."
It added: "Words cannot describe how overwhelmed we are all feeling at this sad time.
"Your generous donations have been absolutely mindblowing.
"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."
The total now stands at £1,500.
One person wrote: "Sorry to hear about the tragic loss of Rusit. My heart goes out to his family and all this who mourn him."
While another said: "What a tragic accident and at that time of year too. Hope the donations go towards making this families grief a little easier to deal with."
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police previously said: "Police were called to the Witch’s Hat junction of the A13 in Dagenham at 1.45am on Monday, December 31, to reports of a car travelling the wrong way down the carriageway.
"Shortly afterwards, the car was involved in a collision with a taxi heading in the opposite direction."
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