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An off-duty soldier who died after falling from a rickshaw style vehicle was an "angel'' and a "hero'', his aunt said today.
Christopher O'Kane, 26, who serves with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (Reme), was on Easter leave when the accident happened. He suffered a head injury when he fell from a pedicab in the Festival Square area of Lothian Road, Edinburgh at around 2.20am on Sunday. He was taken to hospital and died yesterday at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
The soldier was based at Southampton with 17 Port and Maritime regiment and was visiting his family in Scotland. His aunt, Georgina Naylor, said the soldier, from East Lothian, had joined the army at the age of 16 and served with the Royal Scots based at Dreghorn barracks in Edinburgh before transferring to Southampton. He had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and was celebrating his birthday with friends in Edinburgh. She told the Scotsman newspaper: "For him to have gone to Afghanistan and Iraq and miss bullets, mines and bombs, then have his head smashed in by a pavement in a fall is beyond us. "He had been out celebrating his birthday with his friends and he was very happy.'' He was travelling in a Chariot Cabs pedicab when the incident happened. It is thought he jumped from a moving cab.
Chariot Cabs owner Greig Aitken said: "I would like to send my condolences and sympathies to the man's family. I am very sorry for how such an unfortunate accident has panned out. "My driver acted perfectly and I have every confidence in my driver. It's the only incident we've ever been involved in like this in six years so the pedicabs are very very safe.''