A SOLDIER on leave from Afghanistan was killed alongside his girlfriend in a horror road crash.
Jamie Hall and Michelle Swinton, died when the car they were travelling in flipped over and crashed through a fence before hitting a tree on the Coast Road at Blackhall Rocks.
Jamie, 23, who was driving the car – a silver Seat Ibiza – was a lance bombardier with the 4th Regiment of the Royal Artillery, based in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, and Michelle, 22, had a four-year-old child.
Both Mr Hall and Ms Swinton are from Blackhall and are thought to have been out for a meal on the night of the accident, which happened just before midnight on Saturday.
Derek King, 42, a friend of Jamie’s family who watched him grow up, lives in Warnbrook Crescent, just yards from the crash scene.
The dad-of-two, who is married to Fiona, said: “He was a lovely lad, quite quiet. I have known him all his life. He was a soldier on leave from Afghanistan and was supposed to be going back there in a couple of weeks.
“My mother texted me to tell me it had happened. I can’t believe it happened over the road from me. It’s absolutely shocking.
“They had been for a meal that night and he had given his mam six white roses on Saturday. It was pretty strange because he never used to buy her flowers.”
An Army-type backpack with the words “L BR Hall”’ written on it was among the debris at the scene.
Mr Hall’s parents are thought to live in Blackhall Colliery.
Mr Hall reportedly attended Blackhall Colliery Primary School and the former Yohden Comprehensive School.
A Durham Police spokesman said: “The vehicle had just come out of Blackhall Rocks when it left the carriageway just south of the junction with Warnbrook Crescent.
“It then went over on to its roof and skidded into a wooded area, only stopping when it collided heavily with a tree.”
Witnesses should ring police on 375 2159.