'He died doing the job he loved' - tributes pour in after police officer and female passenger killed in head-on Christmas Day collision on A57 in Sheffield
Tributes are pouring in to a police officer and a female passenger who died following a head-on collision in Sheffield on Christmas Day.
The 46-year-old officer was responding to a call last night when the police car he was driving and another vehicle travelling in the opposite direction collided on the A57 near Shirebrook Valley Nature Reserve at around 8.15pm.
He was pronounced dead shortly afterwards and a 61-year-old Sheffield woman who was a passenger in the other car died in hospital.
A 63-year-old man who was driving the other vehicle was also taken to hospital, where he remained today in a serious condition.
Hundreds of people have paid tribute online, and South Yorkshire Police has changed its Facebook profile to a thin blue line on a black background as a mark of respect, with others following suit in a show of solidarity.
Assistant Chief Constable David Hartley, of South Yorkshire Police, described the officer as 'passionate, professional and universally liked'.
"We have lost a friend and a colleague from our police family in this incident," he said.
"The officer has been with us for 12 years and was a passionate, professional and universally liked officer. His colleagues, and everyone across the force, are devastated by what has happened.
"Our thoughts are with both families who have lost loved ones during this incredibly difficult time."
Rotherham Central neighbourhood policing team tweeted: "Christmas is a time for family. Unfortunately last night one of our police family died doing the job he loved.
And the Police Community web forum tweeted: "Utterly devastating. All our thoughts and best wishes to the officer's family, friends and colleagues, and of course also to the family and friends of the lady who died."
Colleagues of the officer, who has not been named, were among hundreds of people paying their respects on the force's Facebook page.
Rachel Eve wrote: "There are no words, an utter tragedy. Thoughts with the families of both parties and to my colleagues at SYP both in the control room and out there who had the unimaginable task of dealing with this incident... but did so with the utmost professionalism."
Sharron Burke told how she had known the officer well and was 'proud to have worked alongside him'.
"He loved the job and was an excellent officer. My thoughts are with his family at this very sad time. He will be sorely missed," she added.
Sarah Woodhead, meanwhile, was among those paying tribute to the female victim, whom she described as 'a lovely woman who will be sorely missed'.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating the circumstances after being notified of the tragedy.
It said the officer had been travelling alone in the BMW 3 Series police car towards Coisley Hill when his car and the silver Citroen C3 collided.
Any witnesses, including those who saw either vehicle before the collision, are asked to call police on 101, quoting incident number 691 of December 25.