A TEENAGE hero has told how he dealt with the shock death of a close friend and prevented a potential motorway pile-up.
Forty-five year old tree surgeon Steve Lister slumped and died at the wheel of his Ford Transit van as he drove on to the M1 motorway.
But the quick thinking action of his teenage passenger, Matthew Crossland, prevented further tragedy, as he guided the vehicle on to the hard shoulder.
Dad-of-one Steve, who lived with his partner Lisa Goddard at Primrose Avenue, Darfield, had been returning home from an evening job on September 7 when the tragedy occurred.
Matthew, 18, of Upperwood Road, said: “I was chatting to Steve then turned to look out the window. He just fell across me - at first I thought he was having a laugh because that’s the type of man he was. I asked him what he was doing and he started fitting. He did come to for a few seconds to ask me what had happened before he fitted again.
“I realised what was happening and had to lift his leg off the revs and put the car in neutral to pull the wheel over. It was very scary and I panicked but did what I thought best.
“I didn’t have a phone and about 15 cars drove past before a woman finally pulled up and called for an ambulance.
“I was instructed over the phone to check his breathing, but I couldn’t find a pulse or anything. It was a horrible experience.
“I’d worked with Steve for several years, starting in my school holidays. He was a lovely man, We all thought the world of him”.
Lisa Goddard, 31, told the Times: “Steve had seemed fit as a fiddle, yet died of natural causes. He had no previous heart condition, but he worked all hours and had never had a holiday. He was a total family man....on the day he died he had kissed me goodbye as he always did. And every day he would text lovely messages to me and Ashleigh, his daughter, who is 12. He was a big rugby league fan and was interested in everything - he’d spend hours chatting to his brother in Scotland about politics.
“We are all devastated. Steve was everyone’s rock”.
Steve was the eldest of five brothers, and belonged to a family with a long military record. Steve himself served in the French Foreign Legion from the age of 19, after being turned down by the British military because of a perforated eardrum.
His grandfather Thomas was highly ranked in the Irish Guards throughout WWll, his father Stephen was a Colour Sergeant in the Prince of Wales’ Own Yorkshire Regiment for 22 years, his brother Simon was a Sergeant in the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards for 14 years and two brothers serve currently in the Special Armed Forces. Younger brother Matthew served in the Royal Engineers.
“We were very proud of Steve and are all smashed up over what’s happened. He was a man with a big heart”, said Simon, 43.
Steve’s first job was as a gamekeeper, and he learned his tree surgery trade at Harrogate.
He had lived in the Darfield area for 20 years and was employed by many companies and individuals including Arthur Scargill, to tend to their trees.
A military-cum-gypsy style funeral will take place tomorrow, September 16, from 9.15am at Darfield Parish Church, followed by cremation at Ardsley.
Simon said: “There will be a Union Jack draped over the coffin, with a chainsaw on top. A wake will follow from about 10.30am at the Longbow pub, and anyone who knew Steve is welcome to come and join us”.
Steve’s coffin will be borne by his five brothers.
The cause of death given to his family was a coronary arterial thrombosis.