LATEST UPDATE 10/4/2003

A 26-year-old man has been arrested today (10 April) on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. He walked into a Sunderland police station following an appeal by the victim’s partner Deborah Jennings and father Joe.

Police are appealing for a high speed hit-and-run driver to give himself up after a man died and his pony had to put down at the scene after an accident on the Washington Highway, a busy dual carriageway in Tyne and Wear on Sunday lunchtime.

Wayne Walker, 33, was driving his trap along the same route he took every Sunday – from his father’s stables in Springwell down to the Washington Highway (A182) and along to the roundabout at theA19 before returning on the same route – when the driver of a Honda Accord ploughed into the back of the pair. The road was closed for 4 1/2 hours.

Mr Walker, who was self-employed, lived with his partner and two-year-old son, Nathan, in Highworth Drive, Springwell Village, Gateshead. His family are too distressed to comment.

Police are also trying to trace the driver of a silver-coloured car who may be unaware of the accident.

Minutes before, the car was seen overtaking the pony and trap in the fast lane quite legally when it appears that the driver of the Honda tried to undertake, seemingly unaware of the horse and trap which he hit at speed. The driver then ran off before emergency services arrived.

Four people were in the car, which killed Mr Walker and his pony on the southbound carriageway.

Two people were arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and have been released on police bail, while another was treated for minor injuries in hospital. The driver has still not been found.

Sgt Phil King of Northumbria Police is leading the investigation. Police are still appealing for witness to the incident – in particular those on the opposite carriageway who were passing when the collision happened.

The incident happened at around 12.45pm on Sunday and anyone with any information should call the incident room (tel: 0191 454 7555 ext 66391).