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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Cumbrian father’s gratitude to stranger who sat with dying son

A father has revealed the debt of gratitude he owes a stranger who sat with his son during his dying moments.

Ian Loftus photo
Ian Loftus

Ian Loftus has spoken for the first time about the selflessness of the young woman, as he begins work on a book in memory of 22-year-old Dominic.

“I don’t know if he died in her arms or beside her, but she was there, next to him, until the end,” he said.

Two months have passed since the accident on a country road near Penrith.

Dominic, known as Dom, was a back-seat passenger in a BMW which crashed into a wall.

Three other men in the car – its 23-year-old driver, from Penrith, along with two other 21-year-old passengers, from Penrith and Watermillock – were seriously hurt.

A man spotted the crashed vehicle as he drove past, and pulled in to a pub to raise the alarm.

A 27-year-old woman heard cries for help and, as others dialled 999, she jumped in her car and headed back towards the crash site.

Ian, of Castle Sowerby, said: “She got at least one of the boys out of the car, if not two. She then sat with Dominic until he died, holding up her phone with a torch on it.

“We met her about a week later, and we sat in the kitchen with her; she told us that Dominic was unconscious, that he didn’t wake up and that he wasn’t in pain.

“It gives us a lot of comfort that he wasn’t on his own, but it gives us more comfort to know for certain that he didn’t suffer.”

Ian described the young woman as “very thoughtful and genuine”.

“I’m not sure I could have done that: she headed to a crash, not away, and then sat with a stranger,” he added.

“It was incredible and words cannot describe her or what she did really.”

The death of the Caldbeck pub boss sent shockwaves through the community and Ian admitted that there was a hole left by his first-born’s death that can never be filled.

“I’ve struggled because I miss him terribly. I just feel that at 22 [he was] a very energetic, skillful young man whose life was wasted,” he said. “I want to take some of the anecdotes about Dominic, and thread them into a little bit of history, geography and tourism of Cumbria.

“I want to do something that will make me feel better, and keep Dominic’s name in a form so that people in a dusty old bookshop in 50 years time might pick it up and wonder who that remarkable young Dominic Loftus was.”

Ian added: “At Dominic’s funeral, his brother Reuben performed a song he had written called Wanted It To Be. We put that little clip on YouTube and it has had more than 4,500 views.

“That is quite inspiring for the young lad to do that, and inspired me to do something.”

Ian spoke to The Cumberland News this week for the first time since the crash, when he revealed the difficulty that he, his wife Susan, and their children Reuben, 15, and 19-year-old daughter Chloe, are still facing to cope with their loss.

He praised the generosity and support offered by all their friends and family.

“We’ve had people turn up on the doorstep and do things for us,” Ian added. “There’s a couple in Caldbeck and every day since it happened they have brought us food, every single day since the day Dominic died.

“On another occasion a farmer turned up and delivered a load of logs, without saying a word. He wanted to help.”

Ian is appealing for people who knew his eldest son to come forward and share their anecdotes, tales and memories of Dominic for the book.

His grand plans do not end with the literature either.

“I want to host a creative writing prize, maybe one for writing and one for poetry,” Ian explained. “Plus maybe a third; the Dom Loftus Knuckledown Prize. Dom wasn’t particularly good at school, but he went back to Carlisle College and got more qualifications later in life when he really put his head down and knuckled down.

“I was so proud of him.”

Donations at Dominic’s funeral raised £1,700 for Eden Animal Rescue. Ian said any which continue to come in will initially be used to self-publish the book, with any surplus also being given to Eden Animal Rescue.

To share your memories of Dom, e-mail Ian at ian_loftus@btconnect.com

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