The wife of a man who died when two cars plunged into a river paid tribute today to the "wonderful and loving" father - and praised their brave children for their heroic escape.

In a statement issued, Ruth Cox revealed their daughter Tess dived into the icy water to escape the submerged car.

David Cox, 42, and his wife were driving their children Tess, 11, and Ioan, nine, in separate cars on the school run yesterday when they both skidded off a narrow path into the River Wye in Derbyshire.

Tess managed to escape her father's Toyota Aygo and get safely to the riverbank, but Mr Cox died after being trapped in the car for about 40 minutes.

In her statement, she said: "David was a wonderful loving father, husband, brother and son.

"We were a very happy family and I will do my utmost to make us a happy family again."

"I am very proud of our daughter Tess. "She held her breath and dived under the water to look for a way out of the car. "Tess then swam to the far bank. "I am also very proud of our son Ioan. Whilst the car was filling with water he kept calm and attempted to unsuccessfully smash the rear side window." "We were both able to get out of the car and on to the river bank. "I am very proud of how they ran back down the lane to the cottages to raise the alarm."

Police believe that the wintry conditions may have been a contributory factor in the accident, which happened near the Monsal Trail, north of the A6.

Neighbours tried to free Mr Cox from the vehicle, but he later died in hospital.

Mrs Cox, 39, and Ioan got out of their Toyota Rav 4 unharmed after it also veered off the bridle path into the water.

Derbyshire Police said an investigation is under way into the circumstances surrounding the crash and a file will be prepared for the coroner.