A family whose soldier son died after seven months in Afghanistan have been hit by a double tragedy after his younger brother was killed in a car crash.
Tragic Ruddie Howell, 19, and mum Tracey McDonald, 43, were devastated when Royal Marine Josh Howell, 21, died suddenly of unknown causes in July 2008.
But weeks after the second anniversary of his death, Ruddie, a graphic designer, was killed after a car he was travelling in collided with a lorry last Thursday (26/8) at 11.30pm.
Grief-stricken mum Tracey, from Coventry, yesterday (Fri) paid tribute to her ”devoted and talented” son.
She said: ”Ruddie was devastated when his older brother died after joining the marines.
”He had wanted to join the marines and did regular seven mile runs to prepare but after seeing what happened to Josh.
”Ruddie studied hard for his A-levels and started doing designs for a clothing company, he was passionate about that.
”Everybody has said such wonderful things about Ruddie.
”He was such a quiet character that I don’t think he realised that so many people loved him so dearly.”
Ruddie had prepared to follow his older brother – who was dubbed ”one of the brightest stars of the future” into the Royal Marines by hitting the gym and jogging.
But he was heartbroken when super-fit Josh died of unknown causes after a seven-month tour of Afghanistan with the 40 Commandos.
Josh had been carrying out camp duties at an army base in Taunton, Somerset, when he collapsed and died suddenly on July 21 2008.
Budding entrepreneur Ruddie changed his plans and launched his own clothing company while he worked as a part-time security guard.
But Ruddie was a passenger in a car that ploughed into a stationary lorry in a lay-by on the A444 near Bedworth, Warks.
The driver, who was also aged 19, has since been released from hospital.
Hundreds of stunned pals have flooded social-networking sites with messages of support.
Tracey, who has separated from the boys’ dad who now lives in Jamaica, said:
”I really feel for Ruddie’s friends as it’s the first time any of them have been through something like this.
”But they’ve been so good. You wouldn’t think teenage lads would show their emotions but they’ve been here crying and helping us through it.
”Ruddie’s certainly lived what life he had. He had his own business, did lots of travelling, had some wonderful friends, passed his driving test – he was a successful lad.
”Whenever anybody had a problem Ruddie was always the peacemaker who tried to help. He was kind, ambitious and handsome. I’m so proud of him.”
The lads’ aunt Sonia Gayle, 44, added: ”Ruddie was a good lad, Josh was too.
”We haven’t heard a bad word against either of them. It’s such a tragedy.”
On Friday night pals held a fundraising evening in his honour with cash going to the Help For Heroes charity.