A young father killed alongside five teenage friends in a head-on road crash near Melton Mowbray was driving them home from a seaside resort as a favour, his mother said.
Richard Bolton, 23, was travelling back towards Leicester after collecting his friends from Skegness, 90 miles away, when his Ford Mondeo was in collision with a 38-tonne articulated lorry.
Mr Bolton, of Beaumont Leys, was "the one everyone turned to", said his mother, Allison Nelson.
"He was always doing favours for other people," she said. "We are completely shocked by what has happened and are finding it difficult to take it in."
His passengers were Christopher Worrad, 18, Emily Curnock, 18, Luke Whittle, 19, Carly Arrindell, 18, and 19-year-old Teela Chamberlain. All six came from the Leicester area.
The crash happened on the A607 at 1.57am on Thursday, near the villages of Kirby Bellars and Eye Kettleby, about a mile from Melton Mowbray town centre. Police said the operation to free the bodies from the wreckage was harrowing, and the road remained closed for most of the day while the accident was investigated. Local residents said the road was notorious for its difficult bends.
The lorry driver, a 48-year-old man from the Melton area, was travelling back to his depot when the accident happened. He was taken to hospital complaining of chest pains. He was arrested but later released, and police said he would face no further action.
Mr Bolton had two sons, Joe, aged two, and Jack, four. "He was a loving dad, his kids were his world. As long as they were OK nothing else mattered," Ms Nelson said. His partner, Michelle White, said in a message on a website: "I have loved you from the day I met you. Watch over us please, we still need you."
As tributes for the teenagers poured in from friends, their families told of their devastation. Ms Curnock, of Enderby, had a college place to study veterinary nursing. Her parents, Dave and Liz Curnock, said: "Emily was a happy-go-lucky girl who had her whole life ahead of her. She had so much to live for."
Mr Worrad's parents, Sam and Garry, said their son "had a heart of gold".
"He loved his music and taking things apart and rebuilding them, although they never usually worked again," they said.
Mr Whittle, of Enderby, lived for his family and was passionate about cars, said his mother's partner, Monty Forster. "He had a heart of gold and was the best friend you could ever wish for."
Ms Arrindell, of Glen Parva, loved music and had many friends. "We will all miss her so much. She had so much to live for," said her parents, Tina and Rick.
Ms Chamberlain, of Leicester, had a five-month-old son, Tai.Reuse content