Kind and loving’ schoolboy died trying to rescue injured animal on train track

Joseph Willcocks’ family want people to know he died trying to save an animal in the path of a train near Dunfermline, in Scotland, after speculation on social media

A “kind and loving” schoolboy who died after being hit by a train last week was trying to rescue an injured animal from the tracks.

Joseph Willcocks’ family said their selfless son had been attempting to move the animal from the train line near Dunfermline, Scotland.

Joseph, believed to be 17 years old, was struck by a “glancing” blow from the train as he ran off the tracks.

Emergency services scrambled to the line at around 2pm on Wednesday, but Joseph was pronounced dead at the scene.

Following speculation over the circumstances of Joseph’s death, family friend Steven Manderson clarified what happened on social media.

He said: “It’s important to the family and everyone that knows them that this is recognised for what it was, a tragic, tragic accident resulting in the loss of life of a young man who had everything to live for.”

He wrote: “Following on from Wednesday’s news of the tragic death of the young boy on the railway line in Dunfermline. After police enquiries and CCTV footage, the police have confirmed to the family that it was in fact a tragic accident.

“This family are close friends. A loving family and the death of their son is absolutely devastating for them.

“It appears he has gone on to help/rescue an injured animal.

“The train hit him with a ‘glancing’ blow as he tried to get off the tracks. Unfortunately the impact was just too severe.”

He described’s Joseph’s death as “heartbreaking.”

Joseph’s aunt, Julie Smart, released a statement from the family on Facebook.

She said: “On behalf of my sister, brother-in-law, niece, myself and all our family, I need to confirm that on Wednesday we lost our dearest Joseph in a tragic accident.

“We need to respectfully let everyone know that Joseph did not take his own life.

“We have seen the comments and want to put the record straight and don’t want this perceived as anything other than what it actually was.

“The situation is deeply upsetting and our whole world has been turned upside down. He was our special, amazing boy.

“To us he was a son, a twin brother, a nephew, a grandson and a cousin. We need time, space and respect to deal with our loss.”

Hundreds of messages have been posted on social media from people paying tribute to Joseph.

Michelle Drummond wrote: “This is so tragic, I can’t even imagine how his poor family are feeling. What a beautiful soul their amazing son must have been to go and rescue an animal.”

Eleanor Martin said: “Heartbreaking and so sad, condolences to the family.”

Zo Kasprzak wrote: “I’m absolutely devastated and heartbroken, Joe was such a great, happy, smiling, kind and caring guy. Sending you all so much love and big hugs.”

Joanne Burns added: “We are with you all every step of the way, sending all our love.

“It’s just heartbreaking. We’re here for you always. Joseph was the most kind and loving boy and will be forever with you.

“Thinking about you all every minute of every day.”