TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular South Tyneside footballer who was found dead at the bottom of cliffs after escaping from police custody.
The body of Karl David Carson, 26, was found at cliffs at Marsden, in South Shields, in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Mr Carson, who is understood to be a father-of-two from Boldon Colliery, had attended an engagement party at the Marsden Grotto pub, when a fight broke out in the car park.
Police officers were called at 12.34am and Mr Carson, who played football for Wearside League outfit Boldon CA, was arrested in connection with the fight, and placed inside a police vehicle.
But as officers went to arrest a second man, Mr Carson escaped from the vehicle and ran off.
A search was carried out to find him, but tragically at 1.03am his body was found at the bottom of Marsden cliffs.
The air ambulance was called and Mr Carson was given CPR treatment by officers until paramedics arrived he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Mr Carson’s death has now been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)and a full investigation will be launched into what a senior Northumbria officer described as “an incredibly tragic incident”.
Mr Carson comes from a talented footballing family. One younger brother, Danny, 24, plays for Northern League side Jarrow Roofing while 18-year-old sibling David joined Blackburn Rovers earlier this year on a one-year professional contract.
Last night, his family were too upset to speak as they came to terms with his shock death.
Paul Simpson, who runs the Marsden Grotto, in Coast Road, South Shields, said he was stunned to discover Mr Carson was found dead just yards from his pub.
He said: “We had an engagement party. They had all left apart from a last few who were organising going into town or someone else’s house for another drink and someone asked me to book a taxi.
“So, I rang a local taxi firm and they said they wouldn’t send anybody out because people are fighting outside and one of their taxis nearly got damaged.
“I told people we couldn’t get any more taxis and they said they would go and sort out the trouble. I was told it was a fight between friends. I don’t know what it was over, but the next thing I knew was there were police everywhere and the police helicopter was out.
“I was shocked to hear about the tragic event that happened and my thoughts are with all those involved.”
Because of the contact between officers and Mr Carson before he died, Northumbria Police has been referred to the IPCC.
Northumbria Police Assistant Chief Constable Winton Keenen said: “This is an incredibly tragic incident and our thoughts are very much with the family and friends of Mr Carson.
“As a matter of course the incident was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and we’re co-operating fully with them.
“Specialist officers are providing support to the family and I’d like to reassure people that we’re working closely with the IPCC to establish the full details of this incident.”
Meanwhile, tributes have been flooding in on the Gazette’s Facebook site for Mr Carson.
Joanne Yannetta said: “RIP, poor lad. Can’t imagine the family’s pain” while Lynn Johnson wrote: “RIP Karl gone too soon.”
No one from the IPCC was available for comment last night.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Northumbria Police on 101 ext 69191.