A picture of grief: Heartbreaking scene as brother of hit-and-run boy weeps while laying flowers at the spot where he was killed

Monday, June 20, 2011

-Police examining CCTV footage of the hit and run vehicle
-Forensics experts examining debris from vehicle left at the scene
-Driver stopped and inspected car before speeding off, leaving Owen to die
-'He was a perfect little man who lit the room up', say grieving parents

By Chris Brooke

Tears: Jack Wightman at the scene of his little brother's death, sitting alone among the flowers and teddy bears left in tribute to tragic Owen

This was the heartbreaking moment when a 12-year-old boy confronted the terrible loss of his little brother in a hit-and-run tragedy.

As police stepped up their hunt for the driver who killed six-year-old Owen Wightman, his brother Jack sat weeping at the scene of his death.

Among the tributes placed by grief-stricken family and friends, Jack left flowers, a cuddly monkey toy and a note that read: ‘You were the best bro ever. Even when we used to fight and argue I still loved you.’

Heartbroken: A family friend tries to comfort Jack as the realisation of his brother's death sinks in

Detectives have recovered CCTV images of the car that hit Owen as he crossed a road near his home in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, on Saturday and are urging the driver to hand himself in.

After hitting Owen, the driver is said to have got out of his car a short distance away to inspect the damage before speeding off.

Owen’s parents, Neil, 33, and Julie, 31, who also have a one-year-old son, Thomas, added their voices to the police appeal yesterday.

‘We have lost our baby and ask for someone to please come forward so we can lay him to rest,’ they said.

‘He was a perfect little man who was taken from us. He walked into a room and lit it up. He was our bundle of joy and our ray of sunshine.’

Too much to bear: Jack left flowers, a cuddly monkey toy and a note that read: 'You were the best bro ever. Even when we used to fight and argue I still loved you'

Owen’s death was witnessed by his best friend, Mason Boardman, seven. The pair had been playing in the wooded area next to the busy road when Owen said he was hungry and wanted to go home for something to eat.

It was as he was making his way across the road the vehicle - a hatchback type car - hit the youngster before the driver made off, only stopping a couple of hundred metres up the road to check the damage.

Detective Taylor said at the scene of the accident on Monday: ’Officers who have been working over the weekend have recovered CCTV images of the offending vehicle. We have also recovered items of debris from the offending vehicle.

'Bundle of joy': Owen Wightman's parents said he 'was a perfect little man who was taken from us. He was just perfect in every way, a bundle of joy'

‘Those items and the CCTV images are with the forensic science service as we speak and I am very hopeful that the scientists will be able to identify exactly the make and model of the offending vehicle.

‘I am also hoping that with enhancement of the CCTV we may get a registration number.

‘That being the case, I would appeal for the driver to come forward and give their version of events prior to us receiving information about what the vehicle was and prior to us knocking on their door.’

The officer confirmed that the CCTV footage had been obtained from a passing bus and the images were ‘fairly good’.

Tribute: The scene of the hit and run in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, has been filled with flowers and soft toys in a tribute to Owen

Crime scene: This is the spot where a driver hit the six-year-old boy with his car and drove off

Detective Taylor also confirmed he had spoken to Mason Boardman, saying: ‘He's only a little boy, he's only seven, so it is very difficult for him.’

The devastated father of a Owen told yesterday how he held his dying son and begged: ‘Please don’t leave us, my little soldier.’

Six-year-old Owen was flung into the air as he crossed a road close to his home.

The driver is said to have got out of his car a short distance away to inspect the damage before speeding off. Owen’s horrified best friend watched the tragedy unfold and then alerted the boy’s parents.

Grieving: Neil and Joanne Wightman described their son as a 'proper little lad' as they paid tribute to him following his death

Heartfelt: Members of Owen's family left their own personal tributes at the spot where he was killed

Owen’s father, Neil, dashed to his son’s side but by then it was too late. The boy’s mother, Joanne, was held back by onlookers because of the nature of her son’s injuries.

Mr Wightman, a landscape gardener, said: ‘I went over to Owen and I was holding him and talking to him.

‘I was holding his hand and saying, “Owen, if you can hear me, please don’t leave us. I love you so much, you’re my little soldier.”

‘But when I looked at his face I knew really that he was gone. I knew from that blank look that we had lost him.

‘There were lots of people around Owen and I assumed that one of them was the one who had hit him.

‘When I was told that the driver had driven off I couldn’t believe it. I thought, “How can someone do that to my baby?”

‘Owen was a proper little lad, cheeky and a handful. He always wanted to be out playing with his mates. He didn’t want to be stuck indoors.’

The crash happened in Fishpond Lane, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, on Saturday shortly after midday. Owen was taken by ambulance to hospital but was pronounced dead.

Mr Wightman, who has two other sons Jack, 12, and Thomas, one, said yesterday that witnesses had seen the man stop his car 200 yards down the road. He got out, inspected the damage to the front of his vehicle before getting back into the driver’s seat and fleeing.

Owen’s grieving parents appealed for the driver to hand himself in to police. He is described as young, white and was driving a grey or white small hatchback-type vehicle.

Fighting back tears, Owen’s mother, a housewife, pleaded: ‘Whoever has done this, please come forward because he has left two brothers behind.’

She added: ‘Owen had such a lovely smile. He would walk into a room and light it up.’

‘A woman who was passing saw Owen’s best friend and brought him him to us to let us know what had happened.

‘His friend said that a car had come zooming down the hill and it had hit Owen in to the air and knocked his shoes off. He said the car drove off straight away.’

A large number of floral tributes, soft toys and heartfelt notes have been left at the scene. One note, from his parents, reads: ‘ To mummy and daddy’s little soldier, forever in our hearts, love u always.’

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Bottomley, of West Yorkshire Police, said: ‘The vehicle is likely to have front end damage from the collision. I would urge anyone with information to contact the police.’


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