‘EVEN in death he was a hero’. These were the words used by a grief-stricken mother to describe her courageous son, who died in a horrific car crash at Wick, on Monday (September 9).
Jeff Stenning, 18, of Dorset Close, died when he lost control of his white Ford Focus on the A259 between the Morrisons roundabout and the Tesco roundabout, hitting a lamppost.
In an exclusive interview with the Gazette, his mother Samantha Streeter revealed how her courageous son – realising that his car was about to crash – leant over and shielded his 19-year-old girlfriend, Leah Pelling, from the impact, which Samantha believes saved her from almost certain death.
Samantha said: “Jeff always wanted to be a hero and wanted to help people. That’s exactly what he is, in my eyes – a hero.
“I have spoken to Leah in hospital and the last thing she remembers is that when Jeff lost control, he let go of the steering wheel and he hugged her before they crashed. I’m sure he saved Leah’s life.
“He was a hero right to the very last second and I am so proud of him. I have always been proud of him. He was my lovely, lovely boy.”
Jeff was on leave from the Army, where he had recently completed his training, when the tragedy happened. He was a private in the Royal Logistics Corps.
Emergency services, including an air ambulance, rushed to the site of the crash, shortly after 9.30pm.
But Jeff, a former student at the Littlehampton Academy, died at the scene.
His girlfriend was rushed to the Royal Sussex County Hospital, in Brighton, where she is being treated for serious leg injuries.
Tributes have since flooded out onto Facebook from countless friends and family.
“He was an amazing son,” admitted Samantha. “He was so, so funny and always played tricks on us.
“He had always dreamt of being in the Army and worked so hard to get there. He really wanted to be known as ‘Private J-Dog’. He wanted to save lives and help people.
“I will miss his hugs. He was 6ft 3in but was a gentle giant.”
Jeff leaves behind his mother, father Peter, step-father Peter and his six siblings.
His funeral has not been set but will be open to well-wishers.