Passenger hit by stolen van driven wrong way was getting lift because he missed last train home


Passenger killed along with cabbie when taxi was hit by stolen van being driven wrong way on motorway by 15-year-old was only getting lift because he had missed last train home

  • Simon McHugh finished work as chef in Bradford late and missed last train home
  • He instead took taxi to his mother’s, but was hit head-on by Ford Transit van 
  • Simon and cabbie Sohail Ali were pronounced dead at the scene on the M606
  • Kyden Leadbeater, a passenger in the van, also died in hospital following crash
  • A 15-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of death by dangerous driving 

A passenger killed along with a cabbie when their taxi was struck by a stolen van being driven the wrong way along a motorway by a teenager was only getting a lift home because he finished work late and missed the last train home.

Simon McHugh, 49, was pronounced dead at the scene after the taxi was hit head-on by a Ford Transit van being driven the wrong way on the M606 near Bradford by a 15-year-old boy on Monday night.

Taxi driver Sohail Ali, 28, and 18-year-old Kyden Leadbeater, a passenger in the van, were also killed in the crash.

Simon, a chef, had been working at Jurys Inn, Bradford, for the past three years and had been due to head back to his mother’s property in Lindley, Huddersfield – around 13 miles away.

He would ordinarily use public transport to travel around the area, but was working late and missed the last train home on the night of his death.

His mother Gillian, a widow in her 70s, had tried to phone him but went to bed when she got no answer at 12.45am.

Police officers arrived at her home at around 2.20am to inform her of her son’s death.

Simon McHugh, a 49-year-old chef, ordinarily used public transport but had to get a taxi home after finishing work late

Simon McHugh, a 49-year-old chef, ordinarily used public transport but had to get a taxi home after finishing work late

Mr McHugh died in the crash alongside taxi driver Sohail Ali, 28, after they were struck head-on by a Ford Transit van believed to have been stolen

Mr McHugh died in the crash alongside taxi driver Sohail Ali, 28, after they were struck head-on by a Ford Transit van believed to have been stolen

A huge presence of emergency services at the scene of the crash on the M606 near Bradford, West Yorkshire

A huge presence of emergency services at the scene of the crash on the M606 near Bradford, West Yorkshire

Teenager Kyden Leadbeater, a passenger in the Ford Transit van, also died in hospital following the crash on Monday night

Teenager Kyden Leadbeater, a passenger in the Ford Transit van, also died in hospital following the crash on Monday night

Alastair McHugh, Simon’s brother. said: ‘He was due to come home on the train, he would normally always use public transport, but he left later and my mother Gillian, (a widow), was waiting up for him.’

He added: ‘My mother didn’t want to tell me straight away what had happened so my son James who was just about to board a plane to Majorca told me at 5.50am on Tuesday. 

‘Simon was the most gentle, kind and wonderful person in the world. He would do anything for anybody. 

‘He would have been back in Huddersfield if he had gone on the train.

‘He had been living in Bradford and only moved back to Huddersfield and the family home where we were brought up only recently.’

Officers began pursuing the Ford Transit van after it failed to stop for a marked police vehicle at around 10.45pm.

The van then drove down the wrong side of the southbound M606 from Chain Bar roundabout towards Bradford, and hit the taxi head-on.

Officers are understood to have not followed the van onto the motorway.

Alastair, 52, a former bus driver and semi-retired driving instructor, spoke of his despair over his brother’s ‘needless’ death.

He continued: ‘He loved cooking, that was his thing, and worked for at one time the well-known Huddersfield hoteliers, Johnnie Marsden and his brother Joe.

‘Cooking was his passion in life, he didn’t really have any other hobbies apart from loving Abba. I love Huddersfield Town and legendary goalkeeper Alan Starling’s wife Gill is my cousin but Simon didn’t have any interest.

‘And what upsets me so much is that his death really didn’t need to happen. And I would like very much to pass on my sincere condolences to the taxi driver’s family because just like my brother they were just doing their jobs.

‘My brother had done his job and this gentleman was doing his. Simon is too young to have gone. It is all so needless.’

A 15-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving

 A 15-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving

West Yorkshire police has referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) over the incident

West Yorkshire police has referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) over the incident

West Yorkshire police has referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) over the incident.

The force has arrested one boy on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. He was hospitalised with serious but not life-threatening injuries.

A 17-year-old boy, also a passenger in the van, is also in hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries.

Taxi driver Sohail was described by his family as ‘a young hard-working, happy, gentle, and kind individual’.

In a statement, they added: ‘From a young age, he has always been hard-working and has always gone the extra mile for his family, friends and anyone in the community.

‘If ever he was needed, he was always first to offer his support and love.

‘He had the ability to make you feel comfortable with his presence and words, he knew exactly what to say and when to say it.

‘Sohail had many cousins, all to whom he was like a best friend, he will be dearly missed by all of us his father, mother, brothers, sister and all of our family. We are all distraught at this heart-breaking and shocking news.’

In a statement on Tuesday, the IOPC said: ‘The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) continues to gather evidence as part of investigation into the circumstances of a fatal collision in Bradford.

‘We received a mandatory referral from West Yorkshire Police due to the fact one of the vehicles involved, a Ford Transit van, had driven off and round the wrong way of a roundabout while a police car was in the vicinity. 

‘The van, which is suspected to have been stolen, then entered the M606, travelling in the wrong direction, where it was involved in a collision with a taxi.

‘We sent investigators to the scene to assess the situation and to the post incident procedures. We have obtained an initial account from the police and are in the process of gathering and reviewing footage of the incident. 

‘The evidence currently available indicates the police did not follow the van the wrong way onto the motorway.’

IOPC Regional Director Thea Walton added: ‘This was a tragic incident that has resulted in three people losing their lives. Our thoughts are with all those affected.

‘We understand this will have caused considerable concern in the community and I would like to reassure people that there will be a thorough, independent investigation to understand exactly what has happened.

‘We will be in contact with the families as soon as possible to explain our role and how our inquiries will progress.’

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