Suffolk

Hit-and-run leg amputee footballer Shaun Whiter 'a total inspiration'

Shaun Whiter Image copyright David Lee
Image caption Shaun Whiter had both legs amputated after a hit-and-run crash when he was helping his friend change a flat tyre

A footballer who lost his legs in a hit-and-run crash has been described as "a total inspiration" for his attitude since the accident.

Shaun Whiter, 27, was helping friend Joey Abbs change a flat tyre in Newmarket, Suffolk, on 1 July when a driver crashed into both their cars.

Mr Whiter's injuries were so severe, he had to have both legs amputated.

His cousin said his determination to recover - and his new ambition of becoming a Paralympian - was "amazing".

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"He was only supposed to wake up on Tuesday, but he was so fit that he woke on Saturday - 24 hours after the accident," Charlotte O'Brien said.

She said when Mr Whiter, an estate agent in Stansted, Essex, woke up he said he would one day become a Paralympian.

She added: "Look out for him in 2020, because he definitely will."

Image copyright Family Photo
Image caption Mr Whiter is determined to walk his bride down the aisle at their wedding in July 2017, his family said

Ms O'Brien said she and the rest of the Newmarket Town player's family wanted the driver who fled the scene after the crash to come forward "to make things easier for Shaun's recovery".

"As a family, we're very forgiving," Ms O'Brien said. "We understand that at the time, anyone would panic and it would be fight or flight.

"It would just be a bit of closure for Shaun - he can't get his head round the fact they were left for dead."

Mr Abbs, who plays football for Soham, was left with a "serious" leg injury in the crash.

Image copyright Newmarket Town FC
Image caption Joey Abbs, a Soham Town Rangers player who has also played for Newmarket, was left with "serious" leg injuries in the crash

Ipswich Town have announced a benefit match is to take place on 31 July to support Mr Whiter and Mr Abbs.

Steve McGavin, head of recruitment at the club's academy, said it "seemed like the natural thing to try and help the two players and their families in any way we can" as Ipswich had "close connections with Newmarket Town".

Meanwhile, the chairman of Bury Town FC said the club would donate 10% of its gate money from its first friendly to the funds being raised for the two men.

Image copyright Family Photo
Image caption Fundraising pages to support Shaun Whiter (pictured) and Joey Abbs have so far got more than £27,000 in donations

PC Ian Masters, from Cambridgeshire Police, said the force was still looking for a Ford Focus "likely to be registered in the 2006 sort of region".

He urged the driver to "do the right thing and come forward and talk to the police about it".

Ms O'Brien said two fundraising sites set up in the aftermath of the crash had raised more than £27,000.

"Everyone's been so generous - we really appreciate it. Shaun's totally overwhelmed by it," she said.

The money raised will be used to pay for modifications to Mr Whiter's home and car, as well as equipment and aftercare he may need, his family said.

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