Published: 11:00, 28 August 2014
A motorcyclist killed in a crash the day before his 26th birthday predicted he would die on his bike.
Popular Benji Stone suffered catastrophic head, chest and stomach injuries when he was in a collision with two vehicles while riding along Stone Street near Petham last Thursday.
Despite the efforts of emergency crews, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Now police have renewed their appeal for witnesses to the crash.
As a tribute to Benji - originally from Harrietsham - devastated friends went ahead with a fancy dress pub crawl he had organised to celebrate his birthday on Saturday.
The 25-year-old reptile enthusiast, who previously worked at the Canterbury Exotics pet shop in Northgate, had been planning his future with long-term girlfriend Silviya Dzheneva when tragedy struck.
The couple met five years ago while studying at Christ Church University and lived together in Sturry Road.
Silviya – known to her friends as Sue – said: “He was so forgiving and had a big, big heart.
"We used to lose him on nights out and find him talking to homeless people, giving them food. He was so caring.”
Benji was on his way home from a job interview in Hythe when the crash happened about 2.45pm – but Silviya did not find out until five hours later.
She said: “I texted him at 3.30pm to ask how it went and he didn’t respond. I assumed he was just riding. I got home about 6pm and said to my housemate I was getting worried.
"Then I got in the shower and that’s when the police knocked on the door.
“I hoped they’d tell me he was in hospital with a broken arm or leg. I just wished I had a rewind button. I wanted them to take it all back.
“It’s so hard when you’ve shared so much with someone. We were always together. I just don’t know what to do with myself now. I keep hoping for a miracle.”
Silviya’s pain was worsened the following day when cards and presents to Benji started arriving in the post, and oblivious friends posted birthday wishes on his Facebook page.
He was also planning a glam rock-themed fancy dress pub crawl in the city centre on Saturday night. His friends decided to go ahead with it in his memory.
Silviya said: “It was very emotional. People were trying to focus on the good times and all the good they saw in him. It was nice to hear so many people say what a big influence he had on them.
“He would always try to get to know everyone, regardless of their background. He used to think the legacy you leave behind is what you give to the people you meet. He would give anyone the time of day. He was such a strong and influential person.
“He saw beauty in everything. He particularly loved reptiles, and had pet snakes and spiders. He was fascinated by them. He read a lot about animals and nature. He wanted to know more about everything.
“He graduated from his degree in media and fine art last year and wanted to work in the reptile industry. We had started thinking about our future, what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go.”
As well as being an animal lover, Silviya says her partner also enjoyed playing drums and video games, painting and drawing, and riding his motorbike.
But he was mindful of the risks, and even predicted that was how he would die.
Silviya explained: “He was never scared to talk about death. He used to say ‘knowing me, it will happen on my bike’. I worried about him.
“He would always wake me up when he left for work to give me a hug and kiss. I would get grumpy, but he’d say ‘you never know what might happen today’.
“He also used to say ‘YOLO’ (You Only Live Once) a lot in the last few months. We’re finding so much meaning in it now.”
Silviya hopes Benji’s death will act as a reminder to others not to take the ones they love for granted.
She continued: “I keep thinking ‘if only I’d had one last kiss, one last hug’, but would it have been enough?
“He also used to say ‘YOLO’ (You Only Live Once) a lot in the last few months. We’re finding so much meaning in it now" - Silviya
“I want people to cherish the ones they love and show them how much they love them.
“I can’t imagine how the other people involved in the crash feel, but I know if Benji were here, he would’ve comforted them. That’s the sort of person he was. Too good to be true, really.”
Police are now appealing for information after the crash.
It's believed Benji's black Honda motorcycle was travelling north up Stone Street when it was in the crash with a white Ford Transit panel van.
The bike then hit another van, a white Volkswagen Caddy, travelling southbound on the opposite carriageway.
Investigating officer, PC Rob Malins of Kent Police, said: "I would like to appeal to any motorists that might have witnessed the collision or who might have seen a white van parked on the near side of the road, towards the direction of Canterbury, to get in contact.
"I would stress both of the other vehicles involved stopped at the scene and at this stage we are building a picture of the circumstances of the collision."
Anyone with information should call the Serious Collision Investigation Unit on 01622 798538 quoting incident 20-831.
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