Family’s lives ‘changed forever’ as dad killed in Essex crash

The family of a man who was killed after being hit by a car in Essex have described him as a “genuine force of life” with “a heart of gold”, who would always “go out of his way to help others”.

Neil Darnell, 50, was found injured around 10am on Friday 16 April after being hit by a car in Farm Hill Road in Waltham Abbey, Epping Forest,

He died of his injuries two days later in hospital.

His loved ones said: “No family should ever have to go through losing a loved one in these circumstances.

“Neil was a compassionate and loving family man. He had celebrated 26 years of marriage to his wife, Michelle, was a devoted father to his two daughters Alice and Grace, and loved nothing more than taking his little dog Ted out for walks.

“He was extremely proud to have served his country with the British Army for six years, including in the first Gulf War, and would go out of his way to help others.”

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Neil also completed three marathons, including both the London and Chelmsford marathons, to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust and the Alzheimer’s Association.

His family added: “He was always happy, always joking and could always see the brighter side of life.

“In the coming years, Neil and Michelle had plans to move to the countryside and travel to a long list of destinations they hadn’t yet had the time to visit.

“Neil was particularly looking forward to devoting more time to his passion for cooking, sampling different craft beers and bourbons, and seeing his beloved Arsenal play.

“Through such a senseless act, these aspirations have been taken from both ourselves and from Neil, and our lives have been changed forever.

“We are all completely heartbroken and no words can express how much Neil will be missed.”

On Saturday last week (May 8), a 17-year old boy from Cheshunt was arrested in Harlow and charged with murder.

He appeared at Colchester Magistrates’ Court two days later and will next appear at Chelmsford Crown Court on July 6.

Yesterday (May 13), a 17-year-old boy from Hertford was also arrested and charged with murder.

He is due to appear at Colchester Magistrates’ Court today (May 14).

Detectives are continuing to investigate the circumstances behind the collision and ask anyone who has yet to speak to our detectives and has any information or footage, to contact the Major Crime Team quoting reference 42/72816/21.

You can also contact us online here or use the ‘Live Chat’ button to speak to an online operator between 7am-11pm.

Alternatively, you can call 101.

Essex Live