A devoted dad died after he fell 10ft out of his loft while he tried to reach a bag of Christmas decoration, it emerged today.
Tragic Darren Owen, 35, was found under an open ceiling hatch by distraught wife Becky, 37, when she returned home from a shopping trip on Saturday afternoon.
Neighbours revealed Darren, who coached an under-11 football team, was gathering up Christmas decorations from the attic in his home in Dudley, West Mids., when he plunged 10ft head-first to his death.
The BT manager was pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene.
A neighbour said: “I heard he got into trouble after he went up into his loft to get a bag of decorations while his wife was out.
“He must have planned on putting them all up for Becky and the kids before she got home but somehow he lost his footing and fell to his death.
“It’s a scary thought as there must have been other people on the street doing exactly the same thing at the weekend, it just goes to show that you never know what can happen.
“I can’t imagine what his wife and those two boys are going through, it’s an awful thing to happen so close to Christmas.”
Darren, who had two sons, Luke, 11, and Joe, eight, was manager of nearby Stourbridge FC’s under-11 team.
He had held the role for two years and yesterday colleagues paid tribute to the “dedicated and hard-working” manager.
Team administrator Simon Westwood said his team had received messages of support from other teams in the league.
He said: “He was a well-regarded bloke throughout the football league we play in and the lads in the team absolutely adored him.
“They were devastated when they found out, he was like a second dad to some of them, he had contact with them three times a week.
“They got to know him pretty well and they formed a strong bond with him.
“It’s a testimony to his hard work and dedication that he was so well-respected.
“We we led to believe he was on his own and he was just found there by his wife when she got home and the loft hatch was open.
“It’s still sinking in – it was only last week that he was there coaching the kids so to get news like this is devastating.
“The one thing that we do know is that Darren would want his team to carry on and go out and achieve whatever they are capable of and the players are determined to achieve whatever they can in memory of their great manager.”
Assistant manager Peter Thompson added: “Darren was a great coach and a great mentor to the kids. I never heard a bad word said about him.
“I’ve had people coming to me saying he was one of the best, if not the best coach the league has.
“My lad’s come on leaps and bounds under him, as have other kids.”
In a statement posted on the club’s Facebook page, the club paid a further tribute to Darren.
It said: “Daz was a pure inspiration to our boys he gave them the belief in themselves.
“It was an honour and privilege for the boys to have had Daz as their manager.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Beckie and sons Luke and Joe. R.I.P DAZ.”
Though the under-11s had two fixtures postponed since the death was announced, other teams in the league held a one-minute silence out of respect for Darren.
It is understood that plans for an official tribute by parent club Stourbridge FC are being discussed.
Worcestershire Coroner has been informed and a hearing will be held next year.