Girlfriend pays tribute to 'kind and loving' partner killed in horror pub crash

Will Place, right, was killed in the horrific crash
-Credit: (Image: Megan Wild / MEN)

A heartbroken girlfriend has paid tribute to her "kind and loving" partner who died after his car ploughed into a pub.

Will Place, 23, died after his Dacia Sandero smashed into the White Lion pub on York Street in Heywood, Greater Manchester, at around 3.15am on Monday, June 1. The crash occurred after police officers in a patrol car had attempted to stop the vehicle on nearby Bolton Road.

It then sparked a huge blaze with fire crews racing to the incident - and Will was tragically pronounced dead by emergency services at the scene. Will, who had graduated with a BA Honours degree in multimedia sports journalism in January and was also a budding farmer, also wrote match reports at Ramsbottom United and worked at Roch Valley radio. He was the son of Beverley Place, a councillor in Heywood and a former mayor of Rochdale.

Paying tribute to the Manchester Evening News, his girlfriend Megan Wild said: "I feel like someone has taken my heart out of my body. We have spent everyday together for nearly eight years and now there’s nothing.

"He was the kindest, most loving person, even when he was having a bad day. He will do anything to help anyone. Nothing can replace him in this world and now I'm just left empty."

Megan Wild with boyfriend Will Place
Megan Wild with boyfriend Will Place -Credit:MEN

His mum Beverley Place said: "Will was adored by all that knew him. He was a special person, with a heart of gold, who lit up every room with his infectious smile and personality.

"We are all left utterly bereft and heartbroken. We are grateful for the outpouring of grief, love and support we have received from his innumerable friends."

Also paying tribute, one of his close friends Max McLean said: "I was one of Will's life-long mates. He was always one of a kind as a kid. The talent he had as a footballer was unmatchable.

"I always looked up to him even though he was the same age. He had everything going for him. We remained best mates all through primary school and good mates through high school.

Fire crews and police at a scene
Fire crews and police at a scene -Credit:MEN

"Will had the most amazing smile and laugh that would light up any room. There’s not one negative thing I could say about the guy nor could anyone else.

"Will just graduated uni and had such a life ahead of him with his football journalism. I could just imagine him being on Sky Sports commentating on his favourite team Manchester City who he was always a die hard fan of.

"But I know his friends, family and anyone who ever come in contact with Will, will always remember him as the amazing man he had become."

And Ramsbottom club secretary Tony Cunningham told the Manchester Evening News : "This has come as a total shock to all of us. It's a tragedy no matter what the circumstances, somebody that age. He came on board a couple of years ago. He did a lot of match reports and interviews with our manager Steven Wilkes on YouTube."

After Mr Place's death, his mother Beverley Place posted a picture of her late son on her public Facebook page overnight, with scores of friends also paying tribute.

Greater Manchester Police said officers engaged in a 'short pursuit' with the Dacia Sandero onto Rochdale Road East, which was stopped a short time later. Moments after, Will's car crashed into the pub and exploded into flames. GMP said the incident had been referred to the IOPC in-line with normal procedure.

Rochdale Coroner's Court has also confirmed to the Manchester Evening News that the incident has been referred to their office.

A spokesperson for the IOPC said: "Following a referral from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) we have started an independent investigation into the circumstances of a fatal collision on York Street in Heywood.

“We were notified by the force that a car had collided into the White Lion pub at 3.15am this morning after reportedly failing to stop for police officers minutes before the incident. Sadly, the male driver of the vehicle died at the scene.

“We sent investigators to the scene, as well as to the police post-incident procedures, to begin gathering evidence. An independent investigation was declared shortly before 5am. Our thoughts are with all of those affected by this tragic incident. Our investigation is in its very early stages.”

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