TRIBUTES have been paid to a devoted social worker who provided help to countless people and died tragically on his way to help yet another client.

Carl Docking, a senior practitioner with Durham County Council’s emergency duty team, was driving to a work appointment when he was involved a fatal road accident.

The 63-year-old was driving his Citroen southbound on the A167 Chilton bypass between Chilton and Ferryhill, County Durham, when it left the road, crashed through a wooden fence and ended up in a field.

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Mr Docking, of Langley Park, near Durham City, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Heartfelt tributes have been paid by his family and employer.

In a statement issued through Durham Police, his family said: “Carl simply loved life and spending as much time as possible with those he loved. That included family, friends and colleagues.

“He was taken far too soon whilst on the way to help someone in need and although he is gone he will never be forgotten.”

Carole Payne, Durham County Council’s head of children’s services, added: “Carl helped countless children, families and vulnerable people across County Durham during his many years with the council.

“He was well known for his calm manner, professionalism and expertise and will be greatly missed by everyone who worked with him.

“Our thoughts are with his family at this terribly sad time.”

Mr Docking leaves a wife Linda, a son Robert, a daughter Eleanor, two granddaughters Grace and Lucy, a brother and a sister.

A funeral service will be held at Durham Crematorium on Thursday, May 15, at 9.30am. Donations in lieu of flowers should be made to the mental health charity Mind or the Ferndene inpatient unit, in Prudhoe, Northumberland.

The crash happened shortly after 2am on Friday, May 2.

The cause of Mr Docking’s death is yet to be established.

Although police believe no other vehicles were involved in the incident, they are keen to speak to the driver of a Ford Focus thought to have been travelling north on the A167 at the time.

Anyone with information which could assist the investigation is asked to call Durham Police on 101.