A FORMER Hartlepool United footballer's son, who died this morning after being struck by a car, was passionate about sport, especially football, said his headteacher.

Rhys Hewitt, the 14-year-old son of former Pools centre forward, Marty Hewitt, was walking near a bus depot on Brenda Road in Hartlepool at about 7pm last night (Wednesday) when he was involved in a collision with a black Vauxhall Corsa.

Michael Lee, headteacher at the town’s English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College, said: "We were very saddened to hear the news today of the death of Rhys Hewitt.

"Rhys was a student in Y10 at the school.

“He was very popular and well-liked by staff and students. He was very intelligent and had a great sense of humour. “Always polite and pleasant, he was passionate about sport and loved football in particular.

“Rhys will be missed by all in the community at The English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College. Our thoughts and prayers are with Rhys and his family.”

He added: “We held a special assembly for Year 10 students this morning to break the news to Rhys’ fellow students and to offer support.

“ The school Chapel has been open all day to enable students to say a prayer or for a period of quiet reflection.

“We will offer a special Mass on Friday morning at 8.30am for Rhys and we will also be holding a special assembly for his fellow students in Y10 at 2pm in St Anne’s Hall.”

Acting Sergeant Andrew Lawson of Cleveland Police said: “This is a devastating time for the family, friends and the school and our thoughts are with them.

“We are providing specialist support to the family and have begun an investigation into the circumstances of the collision.” Marty Hewitt played for Hartlepool in the mid-80s and was a well known player in the Northern League after leaving the professional game.

Officers are appealing for anyone who may have seen Rhys or the Corsa just before the collision to contact them on the non-emergency number 101.