A YOUNG soldier from Edinburgh who died on holiday in the United States is suspected to have been the victim of a hit-and-run.
Private Shaun Cole’s body was found with serious head injuries on a pavement in Miami, Florida, at the weekend.
The 22-year-old Afghanistan veteran had been in the city to attend the Ultra Music Festival with two friends from the Capital.
A statement from the army on behalf of Pte Cole’s family said: “We would like to inform everyone that Miami police are now following a line of inquiry that would suggest that Shaun was involved in a hit-and-run incident.
“We would like to thank Miami police and consular staff and everyone who has offered support to our family over the last few days.”
It is understood that Pte Cole’s parents flew out to Miami on Tuesday morning. The exact circumstances of the incident remain unclear, however there have been reports that he became separated from his friends at Ultra after telling them he was going to the toilet.
Miami Police are now following a line of inquiry that would suggest that Shaun was involved in a hit and run incident.”Family statement
Dozens of friends gathered in the New Yorker snooker bar in Restalrig on Wednesday evening to “raise a glass” to the popular soldier.
Jamie Lothian, who had been with Pte Cole and friend Sean Ward in Florida, had initially organised the get-together at the Iona pub, but changed the venue to accommodate such a large group of people.
In a post on Facebook, he said: “Would just like to thank everyone for coming last night at such short notice and the turnout just proves how many people’s lives Shaun has touched in so many different ways.”
Dozens of cards, flowers and football memorabilia have been left outside Pte Cole’s Gorgie home and his former school, Tynecastle High.
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”.
He had recently returned from Sierra Leone where soldiers have been involved in the Ebola aid effort and had also served a tour in Afghanistan.
A family statement released following his death described him as having a “flair for life”.
Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Matt Munro said the soldier would be “missed terribly”. He said: “Shaun achieved an extraordinary amount in a military career that was full of promise but was tragically cut short.”