Leeds road tragedy: Crash driver knew boys as friends

Friends and classmates pay their respects at the scene of the crash. PIC: Ross Parry
Friends and classmates pay their respects at the scene of the crash. PIC: Ross Parry
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The driver of a car which was involved in a crash that left two schoolboys dead was friends with the teenage victims, his family has said.

Rhys Baker, 13, and George Wharton, 14, died after the Citroen they were in hit a tree on the A62 Gelderd Road, Morley, on Saturday.

Driver Tom McMeekin, 21, remains seriously injured in hospital along with two other passengers, 14-year-old Kameron Walters, and Joshua Van Veen, 15. Police, who initially said Mr McMeekin picked the boys up without their parents’ knowledge, have asked people to refrain from “derogatory” comments about his role in the incident.

Speaking for the first time since it happened, Mr McMeekin’s sister, Fallon Abigail Goodwill, said her brother would be absolutely devastated to learn of the deaths of his friends – if he ever woke up.

She said: “Tom is autistic and is only mentally 14 or 15 himself.

“He has been close friends with all the boys after meeting them while out on their bikes at the skatepark.

“He is mentally on the same level as the boys and they’re always hanging about together doing typical lads stuff – cars, bikes.”

Mr McMeekin spent most of Monday in theatre and doubts remain about his long-term health.

Miss Goodwill said: “He has a shattered bone at the base of his neck, severed his spine, has a punctured lung and fractured bones. If he does survive, he could be paralysed.

“If he does make it through, not only will he have to come to terms with his injuries, but the grief of what has happened to his closest friends will ruin his life. He will never be able to forgive himself.

“At this time, nobody knows what happened. No one knows if he is to blame.”