POLICE have charged a man with causing death by dangerous driving after an alleged hit-and-run.
The body of Dean Laing, 37, was found slumped between two parked cars in Durham early on Saturday morning.
A witness told police they had seen a man being clipped by a car on Claypath but the driver allegedly left the scene by the time emergency services arrived.
Mr Laing’s family have told of their heartache at losing the keen fitness fanatic.
Dean grew up in the Gilesgate area of Durham with his family, including dad David, 63, and brother Mark, 40.
Mr Laing was a keen boxer, cyclist and runner throughout his life, and once rode his bike from John O’Groats to Land’s End for charity.
In 2007 he moved down to Rugby in Warwickshire, where brother Mark lives with his wife Catherine and three children, to work on the railways.
But the former Gilesgate Comprehensive School pupil returned to Durham to live with his father about six months ago when the work dried up.
In May he met new girlfriend Louise Blenkinsopp, 45, from Seaham, County Durham, on an internet dating site. The couple had planned to move in together before Christmas.
But the pair’s plans for the future were shattered at around 2.30am on Saturday when Mr Laing was hit by a car as he walked home after a quiet drink in Durham city centre.
He was pronounced dead at the scene and a post mortem examination later revealed he died of head injuries.
Police called at his family’s home in Gilesgate to deliver the devastating news.
“When I heard the door I just thought Dean must have forgotten his key,” said his aunt Pauline Laing, 52. “Then the next thing I knew I saw the police outside. I can’t stop thinking of him lying in the road by himself.”
Still struggling to come to terms with Mr Laing’s death, his family are desperate to find out exactly what happened.
Mr Laing’s brother Mark said: “He couldn’t have been drunk or anything like that, he doesn’t get that way. He was a big lad and could take his drink. I have never seen him blind drunk. He wasn’t the type.
“He used to be right into his fitness. He was really into mountain biking. And he loved doing card tricks. If you saw him in a pub he would always have a pack of cards with him and he would show anyone that would watch.”
Police are still appealing for witnesses to come forward.
A Durham Police spokeswoman said: “A post mortem examination found that death was due to head injuries. A 37-year-old man from County Durham has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and is being interviewed by detectives in Durham.
“As inquiries into his death continue, police want to speak to anyone who may have seen a silver Vauxhall Astra being driven in Claypath, Durham City, at around 2.30am on Saturday. This was a private vehicle, not a taxi.”
Witnesses should call Durham Police on 101.