TRIBUTES have been paid to two friends who died following a crash involving a motorcycle at an accident blackspot.

Basildon men Sergiu Proca, 22, from Moldova, and Saulius Jokubauskas, 48, from Lithuania, died following a collision in Flag Hill, in in Great Bentley, near Colchester.

Both men, who had been living in Basildon for a number of years, worked at the town’s Bella Italia restaurant, at Festival Leisure Park.

They were on the motorbike when they collided with a van close on March 12 shortly after 11pm.

It is not believed the driver of the car was seriously hurt.

Inquests into the men’s deaths were opened and adjourned at the coroner’s court in Chelmsford.

Their friend Rosie Buck, who also works at the restaurant, said: “They were both living and working in the UK and were much loved friends and colleagues.

“We worked in the restaurant together, but we had a very small team so we really were a family.

“Everyone is truly devastated.

“Sergiu was the most hard-working and caring person I have ever come across, as was Sol [Saulius].

“Sol and Sergiu were returning following a short skiing trip they’d been on together.

“Sergiu’s passion was cooking. He loved to travel and explore as much of the world as he could and his friends and family meant the absolute world to him.

“He was warm, lovely and a pleasure to be around.”

She added: “Sol’s great passions were his bike and travelling - there aren’t many places he hasn’t visited.

“He was so intelligent and one of the funniest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.

“We miss them both desperately.”

Friends of Mr Proca had launched a fundraising page in a bid to raise £5,000 for his body to be repatriated to Moldova.

It is understood his body has now been returned to his family and that Jokubauskas’ body will be repatriated soon.

A post by his friend Diana Burbulea said: “Our friend Sergiu lost his life in a road accident.

“It has left a huge hole in the soul of his family and friends.

“All of us close friends decided to form a fundraising page for his repatriation to Moldova.”

The campaign has so far raised more than £5,350.

The collision happened at a blackspot on the B1027 between St Osyth and Great Bentley.

Essex county councillor Alan Goggin previously said he had been working with residents and parish councillors along the B1027 on a campaign to make the road safer.

“There have previously been five deaths on this road over the past 10 to 12 years,” he said.

“I’ve been working with councillors from Alresford and Great Bentley through to St Osyth on this - over that stretch of road the speed limit changes 13 times and it’s very confusing for motorists.”

To donate towards the fundraising campaign, click here. 

Witnesses should call 101.