Crash soldier Jody loses fight for life

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A TEENAGE soldier who was seriously injured in a car crash that killed one of his comrades has died in hospital.

Royal Highland Fusilier Jody Herkes passed away after fighting for his life for three weeks following the horrific accident.

The smash, which left his friend and colleague Jamie Candlish, 20, dead at the scene, happened shortly after the pair left Glencorse Barracks in Penicuik, Midlothian.

Despite struggling to overcome his injuries, 18-year-old Jody yesterday passed away at the ERI.

Lieutenant Colonal Dougie Graham, Commanding Officer of The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, paid tribute to the soldier – who had served in Afghanistan and had been working with Jamie at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo earlier that night.

He said: “The death of Fusilier Herkes is of great personal sadness to me and this close-knit battalion. His death coming so close to that of Fusilier Candlish and against the backdrop of his having successfully completed a difficult tour in Afghanistan makes his loss beyond tragic.

“Fusilier Herkes was an outstanding soldier who had proven himself time and again under fire. His dedication to the army was truly inspirational; he embodied selfless commitment.

“My thoughts and those of the battalion are very much with his family at this time.”

Jody, from Shotts, Lanarkshire, was driving the Vauxhall Corsa when the smash happened on the A701, causing the vehicle to burst into flames.

A passing fire officer wrenched him from the blaze and he was rushed to the ERI in critical condition. Friends say he never woke up.

Jamie, who had been travelling home to pay his family a surprise visit, died at the scene.

Last week more than 300 mourners turned out to pay their respects to the machine gunner, who dodged a sniper’s bullet in Afghanistan, at his funeral in his home town of Hamilton.

A source described how the comrades of the duo had been left heartbroken by the double tragedy. He said: “This is a double blow to the battalion. Jody was a top man and his death, coming so close after Jamie’s, is hard to take. It’s especially difficult because they were trained for a war zone but died at home in such tragic circumstances.”

The accident was the third fatal crash on that stretch of road in eight years.

Fire officer Tom McGrath pulled the two men from the burning car after witnessing the crash. He had been returning to Edinburgh after attending a serious road accident near Peebles when he saw the Corsa cross the carriageway and smash into a Mitsubishi Warrior on August 19 at 11.45pm.

Black smoke started pouring from the bonnet of the Corsa and, within seconds, it burst into flames before exploding.

The man and the woman in the other vehicle, both in their 40s, were taken to the ERI with serious injuries, but they have since recovered.

vraimees@edinburghnews.com