'A special boy who will be terribly missed'

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THE grieving parents of a teenager killed in an horrific road crash on the outskirts of Longridge say he was a "wonderful son".

Sports-mad Matthew Hesketh, from Broughton, died when the car in which he was a passenger was involved in a collision with a taxi.

Another passenger - a volunteer soldier from Whittingham, Kieran Wood, who is home on leave from his first tour of duty in Iraq - was this week fighting for his life in a Manchester hospital.

The driver of the car, who is from Goosnargh, was recovering in the Royal Preston Hospital with a neck injury.

The three 18-year-olds, all friends from school days, were travelling towards Preston at the time of the accident on Preston Road, Alston, at 12.22am on Saturday.

Their car collided with a taxi being driven by 43-year-old Thomas Kirby from Fulwood, who suffered bruising and whiplash injuries and was later released after being treated at the Royal Preston Hospital.

Matthew Hesketh, of Woodplumpton Lane, Broughton, was a back seat passenger in the car. He died at the scene of the crash.

This week his parents Hilary and Andrew, who both work for the NHS, described him as "a special boy who will be terribly missed."

They said: "He had a warm and caring personality that touched everyone he met. He was able to communicate with people at all levels and age groups. He was a wonderful son who never gave us any problems."

Born at Preston's Sharoe Green Hospital, Matthew attended Sherwood County Primary School and Broughton Business and Enterprise College before moving on to Preston's Newman College and more recently the University of Central Lancashire to study sports journalism.

His parents continued: "His hobbies were football, running, tennis and snooker. He was a member of the Broughton Sports and Social Club where he attended on a Thursday for snooker.

"Matthew was a Chelsea fan and regularly attended games with his father and uncles. His favourite player was Michael Essien and he had met most of the players and the manager previously.

"His best friend was Adam Catterall, who was the driver of the vehicle. He also loved listening to music and the rock band, 'Billy Talent'."

Matthew's sister, Chloe, 16, said: "He was my best friend. That is all I need to say.''

Headteacher of Broughton Business and Enterprise College, Mr Bob Davies, said everyone at the school was "devastated'' to hear of the tragedy.

He continued: "All our ex-pupils are considered to be part of the Broughton family and hearing such tragic news has stunned all of us who knew Matthew.

"Matthew was a popular pupil in school and had lots of friends. He was well liked by both pupils and staff and had a good group of friends and was always pleasant and polite. I taught Matthew personally and he was always such a pleasant lad to teach."

Mr Davies said that as Matthew lived nearby in Woodplumpton Lane he had seen him to talk to since he left school and he would always come up to him and chat.

He went on to say that they would be offering his sister Chloe, who was still a pupil at Broughton, as much support as they could at this difficult time.

Mr Davies had spoken to Matthew's parents and concluded: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the whole family at what must be such a terrible time for them."

Kieran Wood, of Whittingham, who was a front seat passenger in the car at the time of the accident, was thrown from the vehicle.

He suffered serious head injuries and his condition as The Longridge News went to press was described as 'stable but critical' at Hope Hospital, Manchester. His parents Andrew and Lesley are at his bedside.

Kingsman Wood has been serving with the Territorial Army's 4th Battalion of the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment based in Iraq's second largest city of Basrah and was home on his first leave after volunteering for a tour of duty in Iraq as soon as the opportunity arose after his 18th birthday.

Since becoming an Army Cadet in Preston at the age of 13, Kieran's ambition has been to become a full time soldier.

A former pupil of Goosnargh Oliverson's Primary School and Broughton Business and Enterprise College, he went onto gain three 'A' levels at Newman College.

Police are appealing for witnesses to the accident - which occurred between Ann Forshaw's Dairy and Franco's Restaurant - to come forward.

A spokesman for Blackburn police said the three young men were travelling from Longridge towards Preston in a silver Peugeot 106 at the time of the accident.

The road was closed for several hours to allow accident investigations to take place and Sgt Keith Jackson said: "An investigation into the circumstances surrounding the accident is underway and I urge anyone who saw it take place to come forward. I also appeal to anyone who saw the vehicle, a silver Peugeot, before the accident, to contact us on 01254 353767.''

* An inquest into Matthew Hesketh's death was opened and adjourned in Blackburn on Tuesday.