Pensioner killed after being hit by police van named

editorial image

A pensioner who died after being hit by a runaway police van has been named locally as Donald Bennett.

The 83-year-old retired joiner was in Pudsey Park in West Yorkshire when he was struck by the unattended vehicle.

Police were called to reports of a disturbance in the park, which is between Leeds and Bradford, shortly after 2pm on Saturday, West Yorkshire Police said.

The two officers left the Vauxhall van to deal with the incident when the vehicle rolled into the pensioner, who was walking through the park.

Mr Bennett, who was believed to be married and visiting the park with family, was treated by ambulance staff at the scene but was pronounced dead shortly after.

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said the matter has been referred to the police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

In a statement, the IPCC said: “The force referred the incident, which happened on Saturday at about 2.15pm to the IPCC and an IPCC investigator was sent to the scene.

“An independent IPCC investigation was launched shortly afterwards.”

As police investigators photographed the van on Saturday, bricks from a landscaped wall and what appeared to be a walking stick were visible under the vehicle, which came to a rest at the end of a paved, sloping footpath.

Floral tributes from family, including Mr Bennett’s grandchildren, today marked the spot close to the park gates where the pensioner was killed.

Richard Brook, who lives a few streets from Mr Bennett’s home and was in the park today, said the community was stunned and saddened by his death.

“We heard about it on Saturday night,” he said. “We were shocked, especially for it to happen in a park like this.

“He was actually watching the bowls with his son and he came up here to this end of the park for an ice cream, as far as I know.

“I’d see him walking around near his home and he seemed like a nice bloke.

“I can’t see how this could have happened.”

Mr Bennett was a former president of Pudsey Liberal Club, residents in the town said.

Today, the club expressed its grief and passed on its condolences to Mr Bennett’s relatives.

Club steward Andy Chappell said: “The club, its members, committee and staff all give their condolences to his family at this very sad time.

“It’s a sad loss. I wasn’t here when he was president but one of my staff members remembers him as a good man who did a lot for the club.”