THE devastated family of a driver killed in a crash on an East Boldon road have paid their tributes to “a popular and carefree” lad and thanked well-wishers.
Craig Walton, 20, died last Thursday when the silver Peugeot 407 he was driving smashed into traffic lights in Front Street at about 5am.
A statement from the family read: “Craig was a lovely person. He was sensitive, caring and was helpful and friendly to everyone he met and knew.
“He had a genuine heart of gold, a cheeky smile and was popular and carefree.
“We are very grateful to everyone for their kind support at this sad time and thank them for the cards, and for the floral and Facebook tributes.
“We would appreciate that people respect our privacy at this difficult period in our lives.”
After the crash, fire crews from South Shields and Fulwell were called to the scene, along with police and paramedics.
The road was closed throughout the morning while police investigated.
Floral tributes were left at the scene by devastated friends who said he was a “fantastic person”.
Teenagers Charlotte Cragg, 19, Rebecca Lang, 18, and Sam Hardy, 19, knew him for five years.
They said: “Craig was a really nice person who would never do anything to hurt anyone. He was a great friend to have.
“He was just so quiet and shy around people he didn’t know. He would hang around in the background until he got to know everyone.
“He was the kind of friend that even if you hadn’t seen him in a while, he would stop and talk to you. He was just a fantastic person.”
Messages also poured in on a dedicated Facebook page to honour Craig, from Hebburn.
John Emmerson said: “RIP Craig, you’re a friend that can’t be replaced. You were taken too soon from all of us. Sleep tight mate. My thoughts are with your family at this time.
“Always in our hearts mate, never forgotten.”
Peter Borsberry wrote: “Craig, you were one of the most lovely lads we have ever known.
“Our hearts are broken, we will miss your cheeky smile.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with your mam and dad and your brothers and families.”
Police have appealed for witnesses, particularly the driver of a white van, which is believed to have stopped at the scene but left before emergency services arrived.
Call 03456 043 043.