A TEENAGE prankster was killed by a lorry as he played ‘chicken’ on a South Yorkshire street.
Coroner Fred Curtis called Thomas Playforth’s death a ‘dreadful waste of life’. Tom’s grieving sister Ali said her brother loved life and was always playing pranks.
“We loved him to bits,” she said.
The 18-year-old plasterer and labourer stood in front of a truck with his arms outstretched in what may have been ‘an act of bravado’, a Rotherham inquest heard.
Tom, of Maltby, Rotherham, died instantly from massive head injuries after being hit by the lorry.
He had been out with a group of friends on a Friday night in February and earlier had done the same thing in front of a taxi.
Taxi driver Russell Port said: “A lad jumped out like a monkey with both arms in the air. He walked off laughing.”
Police had been called to incidents involving gangs of up to 20 young people running around Maltby. Officers had been jeered by youths and beer had been splashed across their car.
Thomas, who had been drinking lager and cider, had smoked cannabis and taken diazepam. He was twice spoken to by officers who intended to issue him with a fine.
At 6pm he was drinking from a can and standing in the road on Muglet Lane. He ran across.
Friend Dean Bailey said: “I saw Tom go past me and start putting his arms out and that’s when it happened. He was facing the lorry when I saw it strike him.”
Thomas’s sister Ali was in tears as she asked: “Do you think he was playing chicken with the lorry?” Dean replied: “Yes.”
Lorry driver Ian Parker, from Leeds, said: “He stood facing the lorry and held his arms out like a starfish. He was less than a metre away. I braked and thought I had knocked him to the side. I stopped and saw he was at the back.”
Crash investigator PC Brit Birch said the lorry had been doing 21mph and there was nothing more the driver could have done.
Deputy Coroner Mr Curtis recorded an accidental death verdict and said: “It may have been an act of bravado that he turned towards the lorry and looked at it before he was hit.”