Boys killed on M56 as they hurry home in the dark

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A boy of seven who was run over and killed on a motorway may have been rushing home because he was afraid of the dark, his father said yesterday.

Kieran Coupe and his six-year-old friend, Guy Davies, were struck by three cars as they crossed the M56 in Cheshire. Kieran's father, Colin Lambert, 31, said the boys might have wandered on to the carriageway accidentally after getting lost in woods near their homes on a housing estate at Murdishaw, Runcorn.

The friends, who lived in the same street and both attended Murdishaw Primary School, were killed instantly at about 7.20pm on Wednesday. They had been out playing all afternoon but failed to return home for tea at 5pm.

Mr Lambert said he suspected his son was hurrying home because he was scared of the dark. He added: "Kieran knew not to go near the motorway; that it is dangerous. I had been teaching him the Green Cross Code only this week and he knew to stay away from the woods.

"When it got to 5pm, I started to worry because I knew he would want to be home. I waited about 40 minutes, then I went with my brother and about 12 neighbours to search the woods. I think they may have got lost in the woods and were following the sound of our shouts when they got on to the motorway."

Mr Lambert brought Kieran from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, to live in Runcorn with him and his grandmother, Joan, in March. He said he had warned his son to stay away from the busy road since they moved to the area. The edge of the M56 is about 300 metres from the Lamberts' back garden, with woods in between.

Mr Lambert called for a fence or "danger" signs to be placed near the motorway, adding: "I look around and everything is fenced off but not the motorway."

Police, who appealed for witnesses, said the boys were carrying their push-scooters across the Chester-bound carriageway when they were struck by three saloon cars. No one else was injured.