The family of a man who died following an alleged 'hit and run' van crash on Friday evening (February 9) have paid tribute to him.

Brian Darby, 60, died after incident was reported in the Myton Way/Rings area of Ingleby Barwick, near Stockton.

The Northern Echo: Brian Darby Brian Darby (Image: Contributor)His family today said: “We are completely heartbroken at the sudden loss of our beautiful Brian. Nobody could ever understand just how much he meant to us all.

“He was special in so many ways. He was an absolute gentleman who cared so much about people. He always made time for us, nothing was ever too much trouble for him.

“Brian lived life to the full, he never wasted a moment. He loved to socialise and everyone adored being around him. Brian was also a proud grandad and his future with his grandchildren has now been taken away from him.

“We are grateful for the kind words of support from the community but we respectfully ask that we are now given some privacy to allow us to process what has happened as a family.”

It is understood Mr Darby, who had a background in IT, was a senior project manager with the RSPB and lived in Ingleby Barwick.

The Northern Echo: Brian was a popular member of staff Brian was a popular member of staff (Image: RSPB)

In a statement released on Tuesday RSPB Saltholme said: "We are saddened to share the news that our dear colleague Brian Darby passed away on Friday evening.

"Our thoughts are with his friends and family at this really difficult time, as well as the wider community.

"Brian was a hugely popular member of the team at RSPB Saltholme.

"He joined us in 2022 as a senior project manager and quickly fell in love with nature, getting involved with whatever life on a nature reserve threw at him, whether that was getting stuck in wet grassland or washing up stints in the café.

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The statement said: "His enthusiasm was infectious, especially when out and about with colleagues spotting wildlife.

"He will be greatly missed by everyone that knew him and worked with him.

Two men, Shaun Breeze, 29, and Martin Breeze, 56, have been charged with murder and three counts of attempted murder and are due to appear at Teesside Crown Court on Wednesday February 14.