Widow of keen astronomer sends his ashes into space

The widow of a ‘keen astronomer’ who was killed on a smart motorway has sent his ashes into space.

Claire Mercer, who has been campaigning for the roads to be banned since husband Jason’s death four years ago, says he would have ‘loved’ the send-off.

Jason, 44, died alongside Alexandru Murgeanua, 22, after they were hit by a lorry on a stretch of the M1 which doesn’t have a hard shoulder.

They had stopped in the left-hand lane to exchange insurance details in June 2019 following a minor collision near Sheffield, South Yorks.

Lorry driver Prezemyslaw Zbigniew Szuba was jailed for ten months after admitting two counts of causing death by driving without due care and attention.

Claire, 47, said: ‘Jason was a keen astronomer and had a very large telescope in the garden and had a life feed from Nasa running to his computer.

‘It was his screensaver so the computer was always displaying the latest images.

‘Originally I said I would have released them when we’ve won the campaign but it’s taking so much longer. It just started to feel odd keeping his ashes that long when I knew I didn’t plan to keep them.

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‘He definitely would have loved the idea. I’m four years down the line now and I know he’s dead and that he’s never coming back now.

But what choked me was, is that he had to die to get the trip into space and he would have loved it while he was alive. It’s just amazing to think he went all the way up there.’

Nearly four years after Jason’s death, Claire revealed how his ashes are due to be launched into space by the Sheffield firm Aura Flights that offers loved ones the chance to scatter the ashes of their deceased in space.

In a few weeks, she said, he will ‘rest with the stars’.

Aura Flights said they scatter each passenger’s ashes over 100,000 feet above the Earth in the inky blackness of space.

‘At £2950, our memorial scattering service costs less than the average traditional funeral,’ according to their website.

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