Family and friends hold vigil at scene of tragic Leeds crash UPDATED

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The call had gone out via text message and social media to gather at the spot where an accident had taken away two of their friends and left two more fighting for their lives.

And last night under fitting slate-grey skies dozens of teenagers gathered at the side of Gelderd Road in Morley where Saturday’s crash had claimed the lives of Rhys Baker, 13, and George Wharton, 14.

Family and friends gathered at the scene of the accident tonight

Family and friends gathered at the scene of the accident tonight

They were joined by members of the boys’ families, including Rhys’s mother Kim Blackburn, to lay flowers, light candles and share their memories.

As darkness fell, balloons brought by the well-wishers were released into the air to a ripple of applause.

Thoughts were also with friends and fellow passengers Kameron Walters, 14, and Joshua Vanveen, 15, who were last night in a critical but stable condition. The 21-year-old driver was also said to be seriously-ill in hospital.

The vigil came at the end of an emotional day for the boys’ classmates who had returned to school for the first time without their friends.

Many had arrived that morning clutching bouquets of flowers, with some wearing T-shirts over their uniforms bearing messages in tribute to the boys.

At Bruntcliffe High School, where Rhys was a pupil, each year group held assemblies for “collective reflection”.

Specialist advisors were also on hand at Morley Academy, where George was a pupil, to support both students and teachers.

Speaking before school began, Morley Academy pupil Kieran Bates, 16, who knew all four boys, said it was going to be a difficult day. He said: “Everyone’s going to be upset and talking about it. Rhys and George were both funny. They came out with some funny stuff. I hope the others pull through.”

Yesterday, staff at Holbeck Working Men’s Club paid touching tribute to Rhys, who spent much of his time helping out at the club with his dad, Mark.

Volunteer Dennis Kitchen told the YEP: “We’re like a family down here. We’re just devastated. Rhys was such a fantastic lad, a lovely character. He was like his dad’s shadow. He was often here and mixed with everyone. You couldn’t ask for a nicer lad.”

He said Rhys had dressed up as the Elf at Christmas and on Friday had asked to be a leprechaun at this Saturday’s St Patrick’s night.

Secretary Liz Holgate said they were now planning a permanent memorial to him at the club. She said: “He was a loving, giving and helpful little lad. He was called ‘Little Man’, that was his nickname. He would do anything for you.

“Everyone loved him. There’s a big chunk going to be missing from the club. He’s going to be really missed but he will never ever be forgotten.”

Barry McGrath.

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