Widow: ‘He might be gone but he will never be forgotten’

Chef Cristian Radu
Chef Cristian Radu

Tributes have been paid to two friends tragically killed in a crash near Uckfield.

Florin Cristian Radu, known as Cristian, was travelling northbound on Coopers Green Road when the black BMW 320i he was driving came off the carriageway and collided with a tree.

Chef Adrian Mateas

Chef Adrian Mateas

The incident, which happened at about 10.59pm on Saturday, August 19, killed him and his passenger, Adrian Florin Mateas.

The pair worked together as chefs at The Pig and Butcher public house in Five Ash Down, where Cristian’s wife Barbara says they had an impressive reputation.

“Cristian was a dedicated chef with a passion for food and creating new dishes,” she said. “It wasn’t just his work, it was his life. He worked well with Adrian and they would get lots of compliments. People would ask if they were working before they booked a table, because they knew the food would be good.

“He also owned Pit Stop garage in Uckfield, which he loved. The car he died in was built up from almost scrap at his garage; it was his pride and joy, and he did everything to get it into full working order.”

Cristian, 33, of Blois Road, Lewes, grew up in Romania and moved to the UK to pursue work in 2004. He met his wife Barbara, 33, while working together at The Green Man public house in Ringmer, and the couple had two children together.

Barbara added: “Cristian was always very helpful, and had time and a good word for everyone. He was my ray of sunshine, the kindest and most loving person I have ever met, and I’m the luckiest person that I was able to share the last 10 years with him. He might be gone but he will never be forgotten.

“I can see him in our kids, in their looks and their personality. And every time I look at them they will remind me of him. He was the best dad he could possibly be and he loved his daughters dearly.”

Cristian leaves behind wife Barbara, 33, and daughters Alicia, eight, and Julia, six.

Adrian Mateas, 43, of Five Ash Down, Uckfield, also grew up in Romania. He had been friends with Cristian for many years before the pair moved to the UK together.

His wife Cristina said: “Adrian will forever be the greatest thing that has happened to me, together with my daughter Alexandra. I have never met anyone else more happy, smiling and full of life. We are still in disbelief of what happened to such a kind person. Adrian loved me and my daughter with all of his heart, and he did everything possible and beyond so that we have everything we could possibly need. Even if Alexandra [13] was only his step-daughter, he loved her and he looked after her even more than a natural father would do. But destiny decided to take him away exactly on our first year anniversary.

“Adrian had such a big heart, and he helped and supported everyone and anyone. This can be seen in the reaction of all now trying to do their best to care for his family. A big thank you to everyone thinking of us.”

Anyone who witnessed the collision is asked to email collision.appeal@sussex.pnn.police.uk or call 101 quoting Operation Annscroft.