Tributes to Gary (25) found dead in snow drift

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A BURNLEY man found dead in deep snow in a remote part of Briercliffe was on his way home from a night with friends.

The body of Gary Windle was discovered buried in a snow drift by a farmer in Shay Lane, near Monk Hall Farm, just half a mile from his home.

The 25-year-old had been enjoying an evening with friends and took a taxi home in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Heavy drifting snow meant the vehicle could only get as far as Haggate and Mr Windle got out and attempted to walk the rest of the way back.

But he was overcome by the extreme weather conditions which saw some of the worst snow storms hit the area in years.

His body was discovered by a farmer at 1-30pm on Saturday and police and mountain rescue teams had to battle their way through 6ft snow drifts to the scene.

The air ambulance had to be drafted in to take the body to the Royal Blackburn Hospital as the area was too difficult to access for vehicle because of the snow.

Police say his death was a tragic accident and do not believe there are any suspicious circumstances involved.

Chief Insp. Derry Crorken, of Burnley Police, said: “Early indications suggest it appears to be a very tragic incident where a young man has been out with friends and has become caught up in the weather last night on his journey home.

“Understandably this is a very difficult time for the man’s family and we have specially trained officers offering them support. Our thoughts are very much with them at this very sad time.”

Friends and family have been left shattered by the tragedy and tributes have been flooding in for “Gaz”. Messages described him as an entertainer with a great sense of humour, a real character and a true legend.

Dane Skaife, said: “A fantastic friend and an amazing personality to everyone he met, he will truly be missed by everyone around him.

“This is a tragic loss for the people of Burnley and we should come together at this time to help the people hit hardest by his sad death.”

Phil Ewans-Wheat wrote: “Legends are kept alive through the memories of others. Gaz Windle was one of them legends. You will be sorely missed through both family and friends. You and your awesome personality, your smile, your random comments, and your ability to make people laugh will be missed.”

A website has been set up in his memory which has seen donations pouring in from friends, former classmates, work colleagues and people in Burnley saddened by the tragedy.

The “Fund Me” page had already seen £1,145 raised by 96 people in 18 hours which friends hope will help Mr Windle’s family. Neighbours in Briercliffe were in shock at the death of Mr Windle.

Coun. Anne Kelly, of the Briercliffe Ward, said: “It is a tragedy. It is awful for his poor parents.

“It is horrid the thought of someone possibly freezing to death.

“It was exceptionally cold with the wind and snow ­– it is the worst we have had this winter and we have had some bad weather.

“It was sub-zero with the wind chill factor ­ – it took your breath away it was so cold.”

Tony Wiaczek, of the Roggerham Gate pub nearby, said: “I did not know the lad. It is a terrible tragedy.

In this day and age you don’t expect something like that to happen. It just shows you what can happen out there in this weather.”

You can leave your tributes to Gaz below ...