TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular soldier who died in a horrific car crash on St Peter's Way.
Tony Emery, a 24-year-old soldier in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, died at the scene of the crash on Monday.
The red Volkswagen Golf he was driving overturned on the A666 northbound near the Kearsley roundabout before plunging into a ditch.
Police yesterday arrested a 22-year-old driver — who is understood to have been driving another car — on suspicion of causing his death by dangerous driving and he has been released on bail until March 11.
Firefighters had to cut Fusilier Emery from the car, along with his 20-year-old girlfriend, Paige Jeffery, who was taken to Salford Royal Hospital with critical injuries.
She is understood to have broken her neck, hip and pelvis in the crash, but is said to be showing signs of improvement.
Police gave her name as Paige Palmer, but she calls herself Paige Jeffery on Facebook.
Fusilier Emery, from Westhoughton, had been on three tours, including Afghanistan and Iraq, but returned to his home town before Christmas.
It is believed his brother also died in a car crash three years ago.
His family were too upset to talk to The Bolton News yesterday.
Westhoughton High School headteacher Phil Hart said: “We are deeply sorry to hear about the tragic death of one of our former students.
“Our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.”
Fusilier Emery’s commanding officer, Lt Col Jim Taylor, from the Second Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, said: “Fusilier Tony Emery served with B Company, Second Fusiliers, where he was universally popular and much-liked by his peers and his chain of command.
“He will forever be remembered by his regimental family.
“Tony’s life has been tragically cut short and our most sincere sympathies and condolences are with his family and friends. He will be painfully missed by everyone in the Second Fusiliers. He was a committed son, brother, uncle and soldier. Once a Fusilier, always a Fusilier.”
Cllr David Chadwick, who represents Westhoughton South on Bolton Council, said: “I am very sad that around Christmas and New Year, the family find themselves in a situation where a son has died in these circumstances.
“It must be incredibly difficult for them. I cannot imagine what the grief must be like to lose a son or daughter. I send heartfelt sympathies to the family.”
Anyone with information can call police on 0161 8564742.