HEARTBROKEN relatives of motorway crash victim Stephen Bennett say their lives will “never be the same” and revealed how his death was the second road tragedy to devastate their family.
Stephen’s dad Ste, 48, and mum Eileen, 46, told the Reporter they had only recently started to come to terms with the death of their seven-year-old son John – who was knocked over on his way to school back in 1988 – when tragedy struck again.
Stephen, fondly known to friends and family as “Beno”, was killed in a horror motorway crash after his car span off the M55 Blackpool slip road in the early hours of August 27 – just a day before his 21st birthday.
Heartbreakingly, the Saints fan’s mum, dad, brother-in-law Paul, 35, sister Mandy, 27, and fiancee Lisa, 21, had all planned a special surprise party for him the following day.
Dad Ste said: “He wasn’t just my son, he was my best friend and was the life and soul of every party. We feel proud and privileged to have known him – we couldn’t have wished for a better son.
“He was a cheeky chappie but was always incredibly thoughtful and generous.
“He would do anything for anybody – nothing was too much trouble.
“If I had known he was going to drive to Blackpool at that time of night I would have taken his keys off him. But he drove that route all the time and knew it like the back of his hand.
“We had planned a big surprise party for him at our local, the Horseshoe, and had even put together loads of old photos to embarrass him.”
Stephen’s sister, Mandy, told of the pride her brother took in his job, working as a support worker for adults with learning disabilities, and said his friends and workmates had been “incredibly understanding” at this difficult time.
And his fiancee of three years, Lisa, told how the ex St Augustine’s pupil had planned to go to night school to study towards further care qualifications.
Dad Ste, of Parr, added: “I didn’t know, but he had already bought us both season tickets for the new Saints stadium for my Christmas present. That’s the sort of lad he was.
“He loved taking his niece and nephews for days out to Liverpool Airport to watch the planes too and touched so many people’s lives. He crammed more life into his 21 years than most people do in a lifetime.”
Stephen’s funeral is set to be held at St Peter’s in Parr at 11.30am this Friday (September 9).
Poignantly, permission has been granted for the funeral cars to drive into the site of the new Saints stadium en route to the church.
Stephen’s family are planning to wear Saints shirts and sports tops, but say sportswear is optional for other mourners.