Tragic Preston teen was killed when his bike collided with BMW

Reece Whitehead
Reece Whitehead
  • Friend relives moment he tried to alert tragic teen moments before crash
  • 14-year-old had cannabis in system at time of crash
  • Driver’s heartfelt message to parents
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A teenager’s night out with friends ended in tragedy when he was flung into the windscreen of a family’s BMW.

Reece Whitehead, 14, failed to see the oncoming vehicle and was instantly hit when he followed his friend on his bike across a busy road.

He was taken to Royal Preston Hospital following the collision, but doctors made the decision to withdraw treatment almost immediately as he had suffered an “irreversible head injury”.

His devastated mum yesterday paid tribute to the ‘lovable lad with a cheeky grin’ as a coroner recorded a conclusion of road traffic collision at an inquest into his death.

His friend Alex Smith told the inquest how he tried to alert Reece to the oncoming car, seconds before the crash on August 27 last year.

Alex told the court a group of friends were riding their bikes along New Hall Lane at around 10pm when the tragedy happened. He said: “I stopped to see if there were any cars coming and I couldn’t see anything so I crossed the road and then I saw a car coming down.

“I turned around to tell him (Reece) not to cross the road but he must not have heard.”

Reece, of Brant Street, Preston, was killed instantly when he followed his friend on his bike across the busy road and was hit by an oncoming BMW.

An inquest yesterday heard he had 11.9mg cannabis in his system at the time of the crash.

A statement by specialist toxicologist Dr Tim Burke was read to the court, in which he described the amount of cannabis as being a suggestion he had taken the drug before he died.

Speaking after the inquest, Reece’s mother Helen Whitehead, 35, said: “Everybody loved Reece. He had a cheeky grin and he was just such a loveable lad.

“Reece would do anything for anyone, he would help people with jobs and he worshipped his younger brothers Cameron, 11, and Elliot, one.

“He was so well mannered and a pleasure to call my son.

“He may have experimented with cannabis on this occasion but he didn’t take drugs, he wasn’t like that.

“He was a typical teenager who wanted to try things and have a good time. He wasn’t into things like that and I hope people understand that.”

Coroner Claire Hammond recorded a conclusion of road traffic collision.

During the hearing, Laura Wilkinson told the coroner she saw the collision occur after seeing the oncoming car while waiting to pull out of a lay-by.

She told the court: “I heard someone shout ‘Reece’, and then I heard a noise. I checked my mirrors and I saw him in the road. I got out of my car straight away as soon as I heard it.”

PC John Birch of Lancashire Police’s Collision Investigation Unit said the BMW was found to have been travelling at 29mph at the time of the collision and so would not have had an opportunity to stop.

PC Birch told the coroner that the bike Reece had been riding had no rear brakes and faulty front brakes which were not clamped on.

The driver of the BMW, Mohammed Wakas Hussain, was travelling with his son, daughter and nephew when he ploughed into Reece as he crossed the road.

He told Reece’s parents: “I’m really sorry. I have a 14-year-old son myself and I can only imagine what you are doing through.”

Delivering her conclusion, coroner Hammond said: “Why Reece didn’t see the oncoming vehicle is a matter for speculation. There are a number of reasons why that may be.

“There’s evidence of him having taken cannabis before his death…but it’s not possible to say what the effects of cannabis would have been on him at the time.”