Suffolk

Amputee footballer Shaun Whiter's hopes one year on

Shaun Whiter Image copyright David Lee
Image caption Shaun Whiter was trying to help his friend with a flat tyre when the car smashed into them

A footballer who had to have his legs amputated after a hit-and-run driver hit him, admits he "would not be here" without the support of his fiancee.

Shaun Whiter and friend Joey Abbs were struck by the car as they changed a tyre near Newmarket on 1 July 2016.

Mr Whiter had to have both legs amputated and Mr Abbs was seriously hurt.

Mr Whiter says he still wants his legs back but is determined to "focus on the positives" like marrying Charlotte Way.

Before the accident, he was playing for Newmarket Town FC and Mr Abbs was in the Soham squad.

Within days of his operation however Mr Whiter, 28, had vowed to "walk down the aisle" with Ms Way.

He took his life-changing injuries well on the face of it, throwing himself into rehabilitation, and expressing hopes to take part in the 2020 Paralympics.

Image caption Mr Whiter worked as an estate agent in Stansted, Essex, and hopes to return to his job in the new year

But losing both legs beneath the knee is not plain sailing and "I cry a lot", he said.

He had gone out that night specifically to help Mr Abbs change the flat tyre on his car when they were both struck by the vehicle.

The driver, Jan Adamec, 40, from Haverhill, failed to stop at the scene and "left us there to die" Mr Abbs, now 32, said.

Image copyright Newmarket Town FC
Image caption Joey Abbs played football with Soham Town Rangers and had also played for Newmarket

Seriously injured himself, he recalls hobbling to his friend and holding his hand as they waited for paramedics.

"It was obviously bad. The pool of blood on the floor was unbelievable," he said.

"Shaun said, 'How can he just leave us here?'"

A year on, Mr Whiter is looking to the future.

"The dream would be to have children," he said.

He wants to be able to "walk to the park" and, despite facing two more years' rehabilitation, still has sporting ambitions.

"I would like to have a crack... but the main thing is to get married, have a family, and then see where it goes from there," he said.

Ms Way has "been there every single day", he said.

"Visually, people can see what's going on - they can see the legs - but Charlotte is there mentally, by my side," he added.

Image caption A number of football clubs have supported Shaun Whiter (centre) and Joey Abbs (third from right) with fundraising events

There is "bitterness", he admits, but "it's over and done with - you've got to move on".

Mr Abbs is back in training but the mental scars remain, and he has had time off work and is on medication.

"Even though I know it wasn't my fault I still feel that if I hadn't called Shaun, he wouldn't be in this position," he said.

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Media captionHit-and-run crash amputee Shaun Whiter completed a charity ride

However, Mr Whiter said he is determined to see the "positives".

"I do wake up some days and wish I could get up normally, but now I have to... put these [prosthetic] legs on.

"But, I've had amazing opportunities that would never have happened had that not happened.

"I'm the first to admit I want my legs back... but I've got to deal with it."

Image caption Mr Whiter has attended a number of charity events and taken part in others since the accident

During the past year he has taken part in charity events, raising money for the air ambulance.

"For now, I'm going to take every challenge and every day and see where it goes," he said.

The hit-and-run driver Jan Adamec was jailed for three years and four months last September, after admitting two counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

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