TEENAGE friends gathered to lay flowers just hours after learning their young pal had died following a car crash.
Shane Sloan, 18, had only just passed his driving test when the Citroen Saxo he was travelling in hit a lamppost in Mount Pleasant, Washington.
Friends of Shane, known as Shorty, were following him in cars behind and are believed to have witnessed the crash, which took place at about 10pm on Friday.
The former Biddick Community Sports College pupil was taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital with serious head injuries, but died after a five-day battle for life.
Pals of Shane, of Penshaw, paid tribute to the popular skateboarder, BMX rider and basketball player when they gathered yesterday to say goodbye at Princess Anne skatepark in Washington, which he visited daily.
Close friend Karl Tyrie, 19, said: “He was always up for a laugh and was always happy.
“He was really kind as well and would go out of his way to help anyone who needed it. He’s going to be a real miss.”
Sophie West, 16, added: “I met him about a year ago when the skate park first opened and I was upset. He came over and comforted me.
“From then, our friendship grew and was starting to get really strong. He was such a lovely lad.
“He’d been in hospital trying to stay alive for five days. We would visit him every day and remind him that we were rooting for him. We were all devastated when we found out he’d died. It’s hard to believe he’s gone.”
Shane was training to be a mechanic at college, but had a promising skate-boarding career ahead of him and was waiting for a sponsor to go professional.
Ricardo Liddle, 18, who went to school with Shane, said: “He was so happy that he had turned 18 because he could drive.
“He’d only passed his test about a week ago and was really enjoying being able to drive.
“Shorty was great. He made people who they are. When I was younger I was a little chav, and I met him and he got me into loads of other things.”
Friends are now hoping to get a plaque put up in memory of Shane at the park, as well as having it renamed Shorty’s skatepark.
A music event at the park will also be held in his memory in July and it is hoped funds will be raised towards the memorial.
City Councillor Dianne Snowdon, who represents the area, said: “It’s really sad when a life is lost at such a young age and my thoughts are with Shane’s family and friends.
“I’ve spoken to the young people who use the skatepark daily and I’m happy to support any plans the young people have regarding a memorial for Shane.
“I’ve asked officers to look at this.”