Lynda Hankey had just nipped back inside her home to collect her partner and her partner's young child. It was bitterly cold and she had left the engine of her bright yellow sports car warming up outside.
Like most busy families they were in a hurry. The mother-of-two had only been gone a few moments but it was long enough for a carjacker to strike, and as she returned to the vehicle she noticed a stranger behind the wheel.
Seconds later Ms Hankey, who had stepped in front of the car to prevent the thief's getaway, was sent flying into the air and sprawling across the bonnet of the distinctive MG. Her partner, Jamie Hudson, and her five-year-old son watched in horror as the vehicle mounted a grass verge and sped off, leaving the popular 42-year-old for dead outside the modern terraced home the couple shared with their children in Worsley Mesnes, near Wigan in Greater Manchester.
Yesterday, the day after the incident, police arrested two men, aged 22 and 23, on suspicion of murder after recovering the car, which had been abandoned 11 miles away in Leigh. They urged others suspected of involvement in what they described as an "extremely callous" crime to give themselves up.
Ms Hankey died as a result of serious injuries in hospital on Thursday afternoon. Shocked family and friends in the close-knit community said they were horrified by the hit-and-run incident, describing the dead woman as a kind and caring person. Her eldest son, Nathan, 23, said she "did nothing but love everyone".
In an online tribute he wrote: "Rest in peace Mother, you were my world and you always will be. I'm glad I was with you when you were gone and that the last words that we said to each other were 'I love you'. I'm happy that you didn't suffer. Alas, there is now a hole in my life that can never be filled."
On her Facebook site Ms Hankey said the family's home life was vibrant and happy, describing a "very busy household and loud, we're both friendly people and very family orientated".
Assistant Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said the tragedy had happened when children were returning home from school. "We have had more than 30 detectives working on this overnight and we have recovered the vehicle following information given by a member of the public. We hope it will leave us with forensic evidence," he said.
Neighbours said there had been car crime in the area before. One said the driver of the car drove straight into her. "She went out yesterday afternoon to start her car up and nipped back into her house to get something. We helped her out by lending her some de-icer the other day so maybe that's why she left the car running," he said. James Gaskell, 60, described her and Ms Hudson as a "lovely couple". He said: "There was a huge commotion here – I just can't understand how the robber could drive in to her and not stop. It's callous. The awful thing is that there is so much car crime and theft, it's been going on for years."
Police said it was too early to speculate whether the offender was a joyrider who stole the vehicle opportunistically, but they urged motorists not to leave cars running unattended.Reuse content