THE LEGACY of a popular teenager will live on by helping children develop their musical talents.
The family of Damian Thomas have set up a charity – the Damian Thomas Musical Trust – in the wake of the 17-year-old’s tragic death last year.
The teenager was a talented pianist and the charity will help buy music equipment for children.
An inquest at Portsmouth Coroner’s Court was told the rugby player fell to his death after jumping from a footbridge over the A3 southbound near Petersfield Services.
The coroner was told the former Warblington School pupil had been feeling down.
His father, Adrian Thomas, said Damian had been to see the doctor that week.
‘We knew he had issues,’ said Mr Thomas, of Stoneham Close, Petersfield.
‘He was low and anxious about things. It was hard to work out. It was hard to communicate with him.’
Mr Thomas said September 12 last year was a ‘normal day’ and Damian had been feeling ‘a bit better’.
Damian said he was going for a shower, but sneaked out of the house at about 8.30pm, the inquest was told.
Phillip Brown and his wife Helena Brown were driving home from London to Waterlooville and passed Petersfield at about 9.10pm.
A statement from Mr Brown said: ‘I was not far from home when suddenly something fell from the sky in front of me. It was only a brief flash. I said to myself “What the hell was that?”.’
The couple thought they had hit road debris and were later told by police what had happened and were said to be ‘devastated’.
Moments after the fall, Lisa White was travelling south on the A3 and she and her boyfriend stopped to try to help Damian.
A pathologist’s report said Damian had no alcohol or drugs in his system. He died from multiple injuries.
Coroner David Horsley said Damian would not have suffered as the fall would have rendered him unconscious.
He said: ‘It looks to me as if Damian has climbed on top of the railings and gone over them on to the road.
‘Quite clearly at the time there was a lot on his mind. He was in a distressed state.’
His conclusion was: ‘He’s taken his own life at a time of great personal stress.’
After the inquest, family friend Elaine Eves said: ‘The family wish to raise funds so that they can assist children at school to take part in music lessons by supplying instruments.
‘With Damian’s musical talent and natural passion, he would have loved to have been able to help other children pursue their love of music.
‘If children are unable to learn their favourite instrument because the parents cannot afford it, we hope to assist by purchasing an instrument for the child.’
Anyone who would like to donate financially or in any other way with musical instruments, or would like to arrange their own fundraising event, can email Damian’s mum Kay at firstname.lastname@example.org.