A well-liked Football League groundsman took his own life after stepping in front of an HGV lorry, an inquest into his death has heard.
William Whitney, 21, died from “traumatic head, neck and chest injuries” after finishing work for the day at Peterborough United.
Post mortem examinations confirmed that the young pitch preparer sustained “extensive and severe” neck, chest and head injuries after being hit on February 12.
League One Peterborough were stunned by his death, and paid tribute to their talent member of staff soon after.
An inquest into how he died was heard at Huntingdon Town Hall heard on Wednesday, reports CambridgeLive.
Player Bobby Copping, who knew the tragic man well, told the inquest they met at 3pm on the day he died.
At 5pm, Mr Whitney asked the sportsman if he wanted to get some food with him, but the footballer said he needed to go to the gym and they could see each other tomorrow.
Mr Copping said that he said he could see Mr Whitney was down but just thought he "was having a rough time".
His partner, Phillipa Moss, said in a statement at the inquest that they were “inseparable” and they had future holidays booked together.
She was not aware of any financial, health, or mental health issues, but said he felt “underappreciated” at work and was looking for jobs elsewhere.
One of Mr Whitney’s colleagues said he had been having problems at work.
In January he started having “personal difficulties” when his grandmother died, followed by the death of his uncle.
But his colleague said the events did not seem to have a “lasting impact on Will or his behaviour”.
He added that on one occasion after this, Mr Whitney said at work that he had had “enough” and “I might as well end it”.
Another member of staff told him not to be “stupid”, and his colleague said he took him to one side to check he was alright and said he would be there for him if he wanted to talk.
He told the inquest that on the day of his death, Mr Whitney arrived at work shortly after 7am, and seemed to be in a “bad mood”, but by lunchtime, he seemed “great”.
Mr Whitney sent his colleague a message to say “I feel so lost” and that he needed “a bit of support”.
At 8.23pm, Mr Whitney was hit by the HGV on the A16 southbound near Newborough in Peterborough.
The driver of the HGV said it “happened so fast” and he swerved into the opposite lane to avoid hitting Mr Whitney, but heard a “bang”.
“I believe this person intended for me to hit them,” said the driver in a statement, explaining that he saw Mr Whitney standing in the centre of the lane with his arms above his head, directly facing the oncoming vehicle.
The HGV was inspected, but it was found to not have any faults, and the driver was experienced and well-rested, with no eyesight problems or anything that could have impaired his driving.
The weather was clear and visibility was good, but it was dark and Mr Whitney was wearing dark, non-reflective clothing.
Coroner Simon Milburn said there was nothing the driver could have done to avoid the collision.
The inquest heard that a member of the public, an off-duty paramedic, stopped and administered CPR, after which an ambulance arrived and paramedics continued CPR for 20 minutes with “no positive response”. The paramedics confirmed his death at 9.03pm.
His dad, Steven Whitney, said in a statement read by the coroner: “He was a positive, friendly, caring and loving person. He was passionate about life and loved his family and his girlfriend. He cared more about everyone than himself.”
He added: “The whole situation has come out of the blue for me. I don’t know how he could have gone from being bouncy and happy to being killed in this way. He never came to me and discussed being unhappy at work, and I’m not aware of any financial issues.
"It’s a typical male thing to keep it all to yourself.”
The coroner officially ruled Mr Whitney’s death as suicide, and expressed his condolences to his family.
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