Real-life Forrest Gump is named as victim of horror hit-and-run

Real-life Forrest Gump dubbed the ‘Litherland Running Man’ is named as victim of horror hit-and-run after fitness-lover was ploughed down by stolen Audi

  • Popular runner David Francis, 63, died at the scene in Netherton, Merseyside
  • He was hit by stolen Audi S8 which then ploughed into garden last Thursday

A popular jogger known as the ‘Litherland Running Man’ was today named as the victim of a fatal hit-and-run as police continue to hunt the driver involved.

David Francis, 63, died at the scene in Netherton, Merseyside, after being hit by a stolen Audi S8 which then ploughed into a garden last Thursday evening.

Mr Francis – also dubbed the ‘Forrest Gump of Bootle’ – was known for running around the Litherland area of Sefton often in shorts, no matter how cold the weather.

The driver of the car, which was suspected to have been stolen during a previous burglary, fled the scene on foot and is thought to have been injured in the crash.

Paramedics attended and Mr Francis was pronounced dead at the scene. Merseyside Police said his next of kin were being supported by specialist officers.

This picture of ‘Litherland Running Man’ David Francis was posted on a Gofundme page

Police, who named the victim today, said ‘extensive enquiries’ were continuing to find the driver of the vehicle after he failed to stop at the scene.

Paying tribute on Facebook, a man named Chris Campbell said: ‘At one point I’d say I became obsessed with him. Whenever we’d be out in the car I’d always be looking out for him saying ‘there he is kids – The Litherland Running Man’).

‘The kids knew him as LRM too. He was a machine, he ran effortlessly, he just ran for the love of running. He was our very own modern day Forrest Gump. I don’t think he actually knew how locally famous he was. He was a legend and he was our legend.

‘I hope his family take a little bit of comfort in how much everyone followed his movements, his life and had a real admiration for that man who ran without a top and half of Tubigrip on his left calf.’

A Gofundme page has been set up in memory of Mr Francis, with some of those donating money leaving tribute messages to him.

Tributes left to the ‘Running Man’ David Francis at the scene in Netherton, Merseyside

Chris Starkey said: ‘So sad to hear this. Always made me smile when I saw him.. the weather never stopped him doing what he loved. Condolences to all his family and friends.’

Theresa Harris added: ‘Such a really sad thing to happen. He was a well known character around Netherton, he will be missed. Condolences to all his family at this very sad time.’

And Colette Newbould said: ‘So, so sorry for your loss. I didn’t know him but I did see him around everywhere. What a cruel world to be taken out in that way. Thinking of all family at this sad time.’

Speaking last Friday, Detective Chief Inspector Andy McCourt said: ‘This is truly a horrific incident in which an innocent member of the public has been tragically killed by a stolen car.

‘The driver of the car has then made off on foot. I am today appealing to that driver do the right thing and hand themselves in to police.

Floral tributes to Mr Francis in Netherton after he died in the fatal hit-and-run last Thursday

‘It is only a matter of time before we find you and arrest you. The family and friends of the man who was killed have been left devastated by their loss and I am determined that we will get justice for them.

‘If anyone in the community who knows who that person is or have any information I would urge them to come forward.’

Following the incident, a police cordon was in place in the surrounding area and a house in Morgan Mews was taped off, with a white tent visible in the back garden.

One woman, who did not want to be named, said: ‘I’ve just woken up to all this. I looked out of the window and saw a car in the neighbour’s garden.

Police at the scene at Netherton in Merseyside last Friday following the fatal hit-and-run

‘I think it’s gone through the railings and through their wall. There’s a blue tarpaulin over it now. It’s scary. 

‘We were out in the garden with the kids until about 7pm yesterday and I just feel lucky we weren’t out there when it happened. It’s heart-breaking.’

Another neighbour said: ‘I was watching television about 9pm and I just saw the blue lights. I looked out of the window and it was swarming with police. The poor fella who has died, he was probably just going for a pint.’

A resident on nearby The Marian Way, to where the police cordon extended, said: ‘I did hear a big bang last night but I didn’t think anything of it.

Emergency services pictured at the scene in Netherton, Merseyside, last Thursday evening

‘Then there were loads of police, all along the road here, and it was all cordoned off. They were knocking on houses to see if we had cameras. My partner always walks that way to go to the chippy so it could have been anyone really. It’s so sad.’

A force spokesman said the car was thought to have been stolen in a burglary in the Harrison Drive area of Rainford, St Helens, in the early hours of Thursday.

It is believed the offenders travelled to Rainford in a grey Audi Q2 stolen from the Caithness Drive area of Crosby, Sefton, earlier that day. The Audi Q2 was recovered by police in Rainford.

Police appealed for anyone with CCTV, dashcam or doorbell footage in the area of the collision or the two burglaries to come forward.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Matrix Serious Collision Investigation Unit on 0151 777 5747, email [email protected] or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

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