Tributes have been paid to a popular farmer who died in a road crash.

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William Smith, 20, from The Common, Mellis, died after a silver Ford Ranger crashed into a tree in Eye Road, Hoxne, shortly before midnight on Monday.

The former Hartismere High School pupil was a regular at the Railway Tavern in Mellis and helped the pub’s landlady Ester Deocampo and her partner, Frank Hill, to set up the Mellis Music and Beer Festival.

Miss Deocampo described Mr Smith as a “hero” to those who knew him and said he was planning to start his own business.

She added: “Everyone is shocked about the death. We can’t really understand what has happened. The guy has been a hero for us, he has never been bad to anyone.

“All his friends, everybody and everyone in here is in tears and I don’t know how we are going to cope with this because he was a close friend and customer.”

Miss Deocampo described him as friendly and helpful, adding: “Basically, he was the type of person you could ask and he would always help.”

She added he had recovered from leukaemia and his mother had participated in fund-raising runs to help fight the condition.

Police, paramedics, firefighters, the East Anglian Air Ambulance and a volunteer doctor from Suffolk Accident Rescue Service were called to the scene of the crash.

Jim McAtear, his former headteacher at Hartismere High, said: “It’s simply heartbreaking news. Everyone here is utterly saddened for William and his family and our hearts go out to them all.”

Mid Suffolk district councillor Diana Kearsley said: “I send my sympathies to his family and parents. It’s a tragic loss of a young life.”

County councillor Jessica Fleming added: “I’m dreadfully saddened that a young person has lost his life in an accident that could happen to anyone.

“My condolences go out to his family. If there’s anything I can do for his family then I am pleased to be contacted.”

A number of floral tributes have been left at the scene of the crash, which destroyed a wire fence in front of a garden and tore bark off the bottom of a tree.

One tribute read: “Dear Will, gone but not forgotten, always in our hearts. Love Thomas, Stacey.”

Police are keen to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the collision or seen the car travelling along the road before it happened.

Calls should be made to the serious collision investigation team at Suffolk police on 101 quoting CAD 635 of 21/7/14.

Pay tribute to Mr Smith by emailing dominic.bareham@archant.co.uk

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