A charity racer has died in a New Year’s Day charity race after his go-kart “flipped” during a soapbox event.
The 52-year-old racer nicknamed Titch was one of three in a homemade Spitfire kart dressed as RAF pilots with leather jackets, goggles and scarves.
Thousands of spectators lined the streets to watch the popular race in Sutton Valence, Kent, which sees prams compete two laps of the village road, including “pit stops” at pubs along the way.
During the second race shortly after 12.30 the soapbox hurtled down the track “a lot quicker” than other competitors before the trio were sent flying, leaving 52-year-old Titch with serious head injuries.
The kart tipped on its side next to a first aid tent and off duty paramedics and spectators rushed to his aid before an air ambulance took him to Kings College Hospital.
Titch, a local from Sutton Valence, Kent, where the race took place, died from his injuries at around 1am on Tuesday morning.
An eyewitness said: “Three men dressed in RAF costumes and a pram designed like an aeroplane came down the street at speed before the pram flipped over.
“It literally happened a few feet in front of me; they fell at my feet.
“It all happened so quickly and then I saw blood on the floor.
“The three RAF guys were going a lot quicker than the pram in front of them.
“As soon as I saw them coming at that speed I thought there was going to be a crash, but I didn’t think it was going to be that bad.”
Chair of the parish council Mrs Eileen Riden was shocked to hear of Titch’s death and has been in contact with his family.
She said: “Our deep sympathy and condolences go out to the gentleman’s family and friends.”
A police spokesperson said: “Kent Police was called to High Street, Sutton Valence at 12.33pm on 1 January, 2017 after a man fell from a pram during an organised event.
“The 52-year-old suffered a serious head injury and was airlifted to a London hospital. He later died at hospital at around 1am on 3 January. Next of kin are aware.
“Officers have carried out enquiries into the incident and there are no suspicious circumstances.”
The race, which held its 37th event this year, is now in question.
The contestant who died from head injuries during a charity soapbox race was riding at the front of the kart when it crashed.
Francis O’Sullivan, nicknamed Titch, was in the front of the homemade Spitfire kart when it flipped over and sent him flying.
His sister Jeanette O’Sullivan paid tribute to her brother as a “great brother, dad and uncle” after Francis died from his injuries at 1am yesterday (Tues) morning.
Francis, known for his “infectious” smile, was a regular at the George pub in nearby Leeds but staff were too upset to comment on his death.
Jeanette said: “My beautiful brother tragic accident whilst competing in the Sutton Valence pram race.
“Love you always and forever in our thoughts a great Brother Dad and Uncle. May you sleep tight and smile down on us. Sweet dreams. Love you for ever your family xx.”
She added: “To my beautiful brother who has peacefully past away following a tragic accident. God bless him R. I. P xxx.”
Friend Stacey Beal said: “I can’t believe that I’m actually writing this but today we lost one of our dear friends in the most tragic way, our Titch.
“You will be so incredibly missed by everyone and The George won’t be the same without you and that infectious and cheeky grin of yours.
“You made me laugh and smile every time I saw you and ‘those stories’ we will never forget!
“Have a Guinness for me up there my darling, we will miss you so very very much xxxxxx.”
She added: “It’s awful and just so tragic, he was taking part in the Sutton valence charity pram race and he came out of the pram and sustained severe head injuries which once he got to hospital proved to be fatal.”
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