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Nov 28, 2023

A teenager who died when his e-bike collided with an ambulance after he was followed by police was "the most sweetest, kindest boy ever", his mother has said.

Saul Cookson, 15, was being followed by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) traffic officers in Salford on Thursday until bollards blocked their vehicle's path.

His e-bike then collided with the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) vehicle.

Emma Frendo said her son had been "loved by all that met him".

"He was the sweetest, most kindest boy ever, and always had the biggest infectious smile and was full of love," she said.

"Saul was a much-loved son, brother, grandson, and nephew, loved by all that met him."

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said an investigation into the collision.

It said Saul had been riding a black off-road Sur-Ron e-bike and was followed by officers along Fitzwarren Street and on to Lower Seedley Road at about 14:00 BST before the crash on Langworthy Road.

While not on an active call at the time of the crash, NWAS said its vehicle was being driven back to a nearby ambulance station.

Its crew were immediately able to treat the boy before taking him to hospital, where he later died.

A bike lay in the road nearby.

Writing on Facebook, Taylor-Jade Cookson paid tribute to her brother and said "words cannot describe my feelings at the moment".

"Rest in peace Saul I love you," she added.

Dozens of people have been leaving flowers and cards at the scene.

Two sapphire blue, heart-shaped balloons have been tied at the foot of a lamppost, along with flowers, candles, cards and a large white banner full of handwritten messages.

Notes include "RIP brother" and "Forever remembered rest easy".

Another, circled with red hearts, simply reads "Gone but not forgotten".

One of Saul's relatives who attended the scene to lay flowers said the family was "a mess" following their loss.

Saul's friend, 21-year-old Mitchell Murden, said he had been due to meet him on the day he died.

He described Saul as "a good lad" who "kept himself to himself".

Family friend Jacob Bailey, 19, told BBC Newsbeat he came to lay some flowers and pay his respects as he had "known Saul since I was about five".

"He was just one of those proper nice kids," he said.

"He never ever caused anyone any harm.

"No-one had a bad word to say about Saul."

Neighbour Karen Cosgrove said she had passed the scene at about 14:30 BST on Thursday and saw Saul lying on the ground.

"I walked away, I could barely look at it," she said.

"His mum was there, she was screaming.

"Everyone's in shock."

Some concerns have been expressed by local people about the availability and use of high-powered e-bikes.

Mr Murden said "the majority" of young people in the area had them.

Mike McCusker, lead member for transport at Salford City Council, said there was "growing concern" in the community about e-bikes, particularly "very young men riding round without helmets on".

"The ones we have on our loan schemes are limited to about 15mph, but there are unregulated ones that can go up to speeds of 60mph.

"We don't think regulation is keeping track with the technological advancements around e-bikes."

In a statement, GMP said: "Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the boy who tragically died."

The IOPC said it had begun gathering evidence, including dashcam footage from the police vehicle, and had taken initial statements from two police officers, who were being treated as witnesses.

A representative said there was "no indication at this early time... of direct physical contact between the police vehicle and the e-bike", but examinations of both were "continuing".

IOPC regional director Catherine Bates said it was "important we understand the events leading up to this incident and will be looking at the actions and decision-making of police prior to the collision, including the reason for the decision to follow the bike".

She asked anyone who witnessed or had dashcam footage of the collision or "events leading up to it" to get in touch.

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Teen on e-bike dies after being followed by police