Family’s tribute to 16-year-old who died in crash near Diss

A family spoke of their devastation last night following the tragic death of a popular teenager in a crash at a south Norfolk village.

Sixteen-year-old Andrew Oakley died of his injuries at the scene of a collision between two vans in Shelfanger, near Diss, on Saturday evening.

Tributes were paid to the 'cheeky' and 'much-loved' boy who had recently started work as a landscape gardener.

The former Diss High School student, who lived in Sunnyside, Diss, was a passenger in a Renault Kangoo van when it was in collision with a yellow Ford Transit tipper van on the B1077 between Shelfanger and Winfarthing at about 4pm on Saturday.

His mother, Rachel Oakley, said she was told about the crash soon after it had happened and arrived on scene at about 4.10pm. However, despite the best efforts of the emergency services, the teenager was pronounced dead at the scene.

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His family added that they had been inundated with messages of support from friends and local people after a tribute page was set up in the teenager's memory, who was known to his friends as Andy. An appeal has also been launched to help cover the costs of his funeral.

Mrs Oakley said her son loved BMX riding, drum and bass music, and liked graffiti art.

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'He had a zest for life like no one else. He was a cheeky chap and he was a typical boy who loved life. He would have a go at anything and he was very practical. He was very popular at school,' she said.

Andrew's employer, Bradley Tennens, who was driving the Renault van, and Mr Tennens' girlfriend Cassie Potter suffered slight injuries in the crash. Andrew's best friend Ashley Wallace, 16, suffered a broken back and broken shoulder and is being treated at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

No one from the other van was injured and three men, aged 20, 27 and 59, were arrested and questioned in connection with the crash and have been released on police bail, pending further inquiries.

Mrs Oakley also paid tribute to the firefighters, paramedics, police officers, and an unknown woman who helped her son before the arrival of the emergency services.

'We can not thank them enough for the effort and everything they could. They were superb and we can not fault them,' she said.

Andrew volunteered at Bressingham Steam Museum on Thomas the Tank Engine weekends and was well-known at the tourist attraction and he enjoyed regular family holidays at Butlins in Skegness with his Nan, uncles, sister Charlotte, 18, and late grandfather. His father, John Oakley, died in 2008.

His family have appealed for financial help pay for his funeral, with any excess donations going to the emergency services that helped him. People can leave money in an envelope at 29 or 32 Mount Pleasant in Diss or transfer money via PayPal to Local taxi firm, Disstrict Cabs, has already pledged to donate all of its tips from New Year's Eve fares to the fund.

His family added that they wanted to give Andrew the best send off and the funeral would be a celebration of his life.

Police are appealing for information following the fatal road traffic collision. Witnesses are asked to contact Sgt Alex Bucher at Swaffham Road Policing at Norfolk Police on 101.

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