A much-loved rugby player was tragically killed in a car crash as suspects were fleeing the scene of a ram raid at Crowland Co-op.
Peterborough Rugby Union Football Club (PRUFC) led tributes veteran player Mark Collin (51), who also played games for Deeping and had captained Thorney vets.
Mark died when his car was in a head-on crash with a stolen Audi S3, which Cambridgeshire Police are linking to Tuesday’s ram raid at the West Street store when the shop front was smashed and an ATM dragged into the road.
The ram raid happened shortly before 4am and the crash on Ramsey Road, Whittlesey, that claimed Mark’s life was reported at 4.20am.
Denham Hughes, captain of vets’ side Deeping Dinosaurs, said: “It’s a terrible shock.
“It’s a horrible accident that fate placed Mark at that spot in those few seconds and to find out now that the driver of the other vehicle involved is suspected of fleeing from the scene of a crime makes it even harder to bear.”
Although a regular with PRUFC, Mark, who lived in Whittlesey, would turn out for other sides when he didn’t have a game with his club.
“He absolutely loved rugby,” said Denham. “He was a massive fan of watching it and playing it.”
The Deeping club will join other local sides on September 30 to play a match in Mark’s memory.
Denham said: “Mark was a very good rugby player and was very dedicated. He was in particular a very good number 10, which is a key position in any rugby team. He played that position for me a number of times and in any other position that I needed.
“Mark would work a night shift and then come and play rugby for us.
“He was a quiet, calm guy off the pitch – on the pitch he was a good leader and he was a tough competitor.”
Following the fatal crash, Cambridgeshire police arrested a 30-year-old Peterborough man on suspicion of dangerous driving.
Cambridgeshire Police said two other men from the Audi left the scene and are “still outstanding”.
Yesterday, a fundraising page set up by friends to help meet the cost of Mark’s funeral – www.gofundme.com/mark-collin-funeral-funds – had reached more than £2,000.