Tragic Leeds teenager struck by car gives gift of life to others

Kate Whalley
Kate Whalley

THE family of a “beautiful” 18-year-old student who died after she was struck by a car near her home in north Leeds have said nine of her organs are set to give life to others.

Kate Whalley was hit by a black Ford Fiesta ST on the A660 Leeds Road, near to the junction with Old Pool Bank, at about 4.40pm on Thursday.

Kate Whalley

Kate Whalley

She suffered unsurvivable head injuries but was kept alive at Leeds General Infirmary until the early hours on Saturday to allow doctors time to organise recipients for her organs.

Her father Michael, 54, said Kate had just caught a bus home – after sitting her penultimate A level exam at Harrogate Grammar School – when she was struck by the car.

Kate had been due to sit her final A level the following day.

Kate’s family said she was confident she would have achieved the two A grades and one B she needed after being offered a place to study psychology at Newcastle University in September.

Kate Whalley

Kate Whalley

Mr Whalley, 54, said police took him and Kate’s stepmother Janie to Leeds General Infirmary to be with Kate on Thursday.

He said: “After a while the medics came and told us of the horrendous injuries to her head and it was so bad that she could no longer survive.

“Kate had a donor card so we granted the doctors her wishes. But they had to keep her alive so her organs would be of use and it was going to be quite a while for them to get the donors to be matched.”

Mr Whalley said his daughter’s life support was switched off just after 1am on Saturday and she died two hours later.

He said she donated nine organs, including her heart, lungs, liver and kidneys.

Mr Whalley, who works as a self-employed chartered surveyor, said: “I have just been informed that her two kidneys have been given and that the recipients are doing well.

He added: “I think it’s wonderful. It just shows the spirit and zest for life that Kate had that she wanted to give life to others.

“It expresses the selfless character she was and what a beautiful young woman she was.

“She had the most beautiful smile. She was an intelligent, confident, beautiful young woman in every way.

“As a father I couldn’t have wished for a more beautiful girl who was so very close. She used to say ‘me and dad can take on the world.’

“She was strong-minded, hard-working and fun-loving. She had a boyfriend called Tom and every time they were together they just laughed.

“She was full of life with all her future ahead of her and she was just snatched away.”

Miss Whalley’s step mother Janie Whalley said: “Kate really was a lovely, amazing girl. The first thing she did every morning was give you a hug.”

Mr Whalley said he called his daughter at around 3.25pm on Thursday when she was coming out of school after finishing her exam at 3.15pm.

He said: “I said to her ‘get a taxi because you have got that maths exam tomorrow.’ By getting a taxi back she would haven an hour more for study.

“She said ‘no, it’s alright’ and I have got a return bus ticket.’ She was literally within sight of our front door.”

Mr Whalley said his daughter was in her final year of her A levels at Harrogate Grammar School.

He said: “She had just had her last psychology exam on the Thursday. On the Friday she had her final maths exam. She would have been finished and then, hopefully, she would have gone to Newcastle University.”

Mr Whalley said he was worried when his daughter had not returned home by 5.30pm.

He said: “I was concerned so I rang her mobile and there was no answer. There was a knock at the door and I knew something was wrong and it didn’t surprise me that it was a policeman.

“He told me she had been severely injured and taken by air ambulance to Leeds General Infirmary.”

Kate also leaves mother Diane Jordan and step father Gary Jordan, half-brothers Paul and Daniel Faithfull, half-sisters Holly and Jessica McGrellis and Kate’s boyfriend Tom Underwood.

West Yorkshire Police said officers from the force’s major collision enquiry team are continuing enquiries following the tragedy.

The driver of the Fiesta, a 22-year-old man, from Harrogate, was arrested and released pending further enquiries.

Sergeant Mathew Tunney said: “We are still keen to hear from anyone who witnessed the collision or who saw the black Ford Fiesta ST, which is believed to have travelled from Ilkley, at any point on its journey to the scene of the collision.

“We are particularly keen to hear from anyone with dashcam footage that may have captured either the incident itself or the movements of the Fiesta in the time leading up to the collision.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the West Yorkshire Police Major Collision Enquiry Team via 101 quoting log number 1347 of June 22.

More Than 20 floral tributes have been left at the scene of the collision that claimed Kate’s life.

One friend wrote on a note attached to a bouquet of flowers: “Beautiful flowers for a beautiful girl. Will miss you forever. Love you always.”

Kate’s family said all will be welcome at her funeral service at Harrogate Stonefall Crematorium on Wetherby Road at 3pm on Thursday July 6 followed by a wake at Pavilions on the Great Yorkshire Show ground at Harrogate.

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