1. ITV Report

'Time does not heal': Hexham family launch appeal 25 years on from father's death

The family of an elderly man killed in a hit-and-run in 1991 has made a plea to anyone with information about the incident - 25 years after his death.

Charles Trueman was killed in a hit-and-run 25 years ago Credit: Northumbria Police

Charles Trueman, 83, died after being hit by a car in his home town of Hexham as he walked back to his home following a visit to his daughter’s grave.

The collision left the retired gardener with head injuries but the driver of the mystery vehicle fled the scene and Charles was later pronounced dead in hospital.

His widow Rosina was left heartbroken and died ten years later when she was buried alongside World War Two veteran Charles in Hexham Cemetery.

Charles with his daughter Elaine Credit: Northumbria Police

Their daughter Elaine O'Neil and her five siblings have never been able to get over the tragedy that claimed their father's life and are still seeking answers 25 years on.

The incident happened just before 5pm on August 31 on Station Road in Hexham close to the junction with Dean Street and Loosing Hill, a short walk from his home at Peth Head.

A blue Metro car was believed to be seen leaving the scene immediately after the incident but in 25 years no eye witnesses have come forward to shed light on exactly what happened.

There were also sightings of a large dark saloon style car that officers believe would have had to swerve to avoid the collision. That vehicle also left the scene before the police arrived.

Northumbria Police's Operation Dragoon have now said they would welcome any new evidence that could help identify the driver of the vehicle involved.

PC Derek Longstaff, of the dedicated Motor Patrols team, has urged someone to make it their New Year's resolution to end the family's despair once and for all.

"This collision had a huge impact on Charles' family and they have still not been able to move on more than 25 years later.

"They desperately want some answers about what happened that summer's afternoon and we welcome anyone who can provide us with fresh evidence that could help Elaine and her family.

"There is not much to go on and we know it will be difficult to be able to trace those involved that day but we will fully investigate any new leads that may bring some closure to those close to Charles.

"At least two vehicles are known to have been in the area at the time and we'd ask for the drivers of the blue Mini Metro and the dark saloon style vehicle to contact us.

"One thing we do know is that a man rang Hexham Hospital the evening of the incident to check on Charles's condition. We would appeal directly to that person to get in touch with us.

"He may have been the driver and may have hit Charles by accident before fleeing the scene in sheer panic. Until we speak to that individual there is no way of knowing what happened.

"Somebody also called the hospital to arrange for an ambulance to attend the scene following the incident. We do not know whether this was the same person but they should do the right thing and call police.

"It is now time for whoever was driving that afternoon to take responsibility once and for all so we can get some answers for a family who have never been able to get over this tragic event.

"You may remember this date because something significant happened that day. It could be linked to this collision and we'd appeal for anyone who think they might know something to get in touch."

– PC Derek Longstaff

Mother-of-two Elaine, 56, who now lives in Ryton, said she will never be able to get over the collision that claimed her father's life and left her mother with a broken heart and the family devastated.

"Our dad was a respected and very well liked local man, well known in the community, being born and bred in Hexham.

"This horrendous accident left his family devastated and also his many friends in the locality in a state of shock and disbelief that this could happen to such a decent man.

"They say that time heals, but time does not heal when there are so many unanswered questions around what actually happened all those years ago.

"Hexham is a relatively small town and I'm convinced someone knows exactly what occurred and who was responsible.

"We would be extremely grateful for any information that could help us understand the true course of events on that fateful day - this is not about finding someone to blame.

"This is about finding out exactly what happened to cause this horrible fatality - and this in turn could help our family find acceptance and ultimately closure at long last."

– Elaine

Anyone with any information about the incident should contact police on 101 ext 62585 and request to speak to the Operation Dragoon team.