Family of Shaun Cole in agonising wait for answers

Tributes to dead Edinburgh soldier Shaun Cole, outside Balgreen Primary School where he was a pupil. Pic: Gordon Fraser

Tributes to dead Edinburgh soldier Shaun Cole, outside Balgreen Primary School where he was a pupil. Pic: Gordon Fraser

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Heartbroken relatives of an Edinburgh soldier found dead in Florida face an agonising wait to find out how he died.

Private Shaun Cole, 22, had been in Miami for the Ultra dance music festival when his body was discovered last Sunday morning.

He was found in a pool of blood with serious head injuries on a pavement near the hotel he had been staying in with two friends.

A police investigation is ongoing, and detectives have told Pte Cole’s family that he may have been the victim of a hit and run.

But it emerged today that it could take up to four weeks for medical experts to reveal their verdict on the cause of death.

Pte Cole’s death will continue to be treated as “unclassified” until detectives receive a report from the Medical Examiner’s Office.

Scottish soldier, Private Shaun Cole

Scottish soldier, Private Shaun Cole

In Edinburgh, devastated relatives and friends of Pte Cole have rallied around to support his immediate family and remember him.

Poignant tributes have been left outside Balgreen Primary, the former school of the Afghanistan veteran.

A Hearts scarf and a maroon T-shirt was left at the school fence for Jambos fan Pte Cole with the message: “RIP, From all the boys. Love you.”

The T-shirt was flanked by eleven bouquets which were tied to the railings alongside a laminated poem describing the heartache of losing a son.

It says: “My dear Shaun! I was thinking I gave you life, The reality is you gave me life, Without you and your presence I can’t exist, My heart longs for your company, Always in my heart. I love you son.”

Childhood friend Steven Rennie posted on Twitter after laying flowers at the Balgreen Road site.

He said: “Just back from laying flowers at Balgreen Primary School in loving memory of Shaun Cole! Still cannot believe this has happened to such an inspirational young man who would have done anything for anyone! You will never be forgotten Shaun, your memories will go on forever.”

Local councillor Jeremy Balfour, who represents the Balgreen area, said the tragedy had brought local people together.

He said: “I went past there yesterday and saw the tributes. Clearly it’s a tragic situation, it’s a very sad situation. But I think it shows that the community of Balgreen and the surrounding area does come together and support people when we have a time of need. I think it shows that people generally care and are concerned about families. I hope that the police will find the person that did it and resolve it the family can find some comfort in that.”

Tributes have also been laid outside Pte Cole’s family home in Gorgie, and at Tynecastle High, where he was a pupil.

There was also a minute’s applause in the 22nd minute of Hearts’ match against Rangers at Ibrox on Sunday.

Hearts winger Jamie Walker, who was friends with Pte Cole, wore a black armband and t-shirt underneath his football shirt which said “RIP Shaun Cole”.

Pte Cole, who served in the 1st Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (1 SCOTS), has been described by loved ones as an “incredible young man”.

In February this year, he returned from a four-month tour of Sierra Leone, in support of the Ebola aid effort.

A family statement released following his death described him as having a “flair for life”.

His funeral plans have not yet been released as the investigations continue.

Pte Cole’s body was found on the same weekend that a young Canadian man was seriously injured in a hit and run elsewhere in Miami. Alexander Sanghwan, 22, remains in an induced coma at the Jackson Memorial Hospital Trauma Centre in Miami after the collision.

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com