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Aaron Bell, 17, and Louis Bank, 18, both suffered devastating injuries when a grey Alfa Romeo they were in crashed while travelling on Masham Road (B6268), near Thornton Watlass – a small village to the south-west of Bedale. Another teenager lost his life in the accident while a fourth – the 18-year-old driver – was seriously injured in the collision, which occurred on Friday night, and remains in hospital.
The four friends – all understood to be pupils at Bedale High School – were heading towards High Burton, located further south near the River Ure, when their car veered off the road at around 11pm.
North Yorkshire Police said in a statement that no other cars were believed to have been involved.
On Saturday, Wensleydale rugby club posted of their devastation at the deaths of Aaron and Louis.
They wrote: “Yesterday we heard the devastating news that two of our own, Aaron Bell and Louis Banks had died in a car accident.
“Both lads started playing at Wensleydale aged 7 and last season Aaron became a regular in the senior squad scoring tries for fun for both the 1st and 2nd team.
“You couldn’t find nicer lads than these two and were an absolute pleasure to coach. You will both be sorely missed and always a part of our club.”
Meanwhile, North Yorkshire Soccer Academy said: “We were devastated to hear that one of our former players passed away in a car accident.
“Aaron Bell was a phenomenal footballer, rugby [player] and cricketer. He had THE most cheeky grin and had an unbelievable attitude to all sports. He was an all round great kid too.
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“We will remember Aaron for his tenacity, pace and power and of course that beaming smile.”
Hundreds of people have shared their tributes online to the pair – who both come from farming families.
Friend Elise Lee said the two teens “were taken from us too soon. We all love you and we hope you’re in a better place.
“I’m so sorry this has happened to you boys, you were truly amazing. Rip we love you.”
Kieren Pounder recounted: “I went to school with the boys. I used to play rugby with two of them.
“All of them were the brightest of lads they always [went] out to help and I worked with Aaron on farm laming and he’s always jolly and happy lad his laugh was contagious.
“I’ve known one of them for 10 years and he’s always to make us laugh.”
Maisie Clark, from Masham, wrote: “I’m just in utter shock. Rest in peace lads. You’ve really broken many hearts.”
North Yorkshire Police is now appealing for witnesses to the horror crash.
A spokesperson said: “We’re appealing for anyone who may have witnessed the incident, may have seen the vehicle in the area prior to the collision or anyone who may have dashcam footage or any other information that could help the investigation.”
Many locals waking up to the tragic news have offered their condolences to the families of the victims on social media.
Debbie Cook commented: “How awful, my thoughts go out to the families of all four boys and the emergency crews in attendance. What a tragic loss.”
Meanwhile, Sarah Bulmer wrote: “So, so sad to read this thinking of all involved. I have a 17-year-old and can’t imagine what the families are going through right now.”
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