Published: 12:00, 16 March 2017
A talented chef tragically killed when his bicycle was struck by a van was a “unique free spirit with a gentle soul”.
Popular Dave Thorman, 35, died at the scene of the crash in Canterbury Road, Whitstable, at 8.30pm on Friday.
The van driver, a 21-year-old from the town, was arrested at the scene shortly before 10pm.
Dave’s death has devastated his family and friends, who remember his good heart and passion for life.
His mum, Jill, 57, was given the heartbreaking news of her son’s death when police visited her home in Hawkinge at 5.30am on Saturday.
“They asked to come in and said Dave had been fatally injured,” she said.
“As soon as they said the word fatal my heart just sank. We’ve been in shock ever since.”
Jill describes her son as a selfless man who always looked out for others before himself, recalling the last time they saw each other on March 1.
“We’d gone to Canterbury to buy his younger brother Jacob a birthday present,” she said.
“Dave chose him some Hot Wheels racing stuff and then we went and had a nice meal in the restaurant by the Cathedral. I really appreciate that I had those few hours with him.
“A homeless guy came up to us and I was ready to ignore him, but Dave put his hand in his pocket and gave him all of his change.
“That was the kind of guy he was. If he could help someone, he would. He had a very good heart.”
One of five siblings, Dave was close to his large family and inseparable from older brother Daniel growing up.
As a child he lived in Ramsgate and went to Chilton primary school and St George’s secondary.
At 16 his passion for cooking was ignited when he started a three-year catering course at Thanet Tech.
Showing promise from the start, he was one of few students chosen to help at Royal events at Buckingham Palace.
His efforts earned him a career in catering, and two years ago he became head chef at the Crescent Turner Hotel in Wraik Hill, Whitstable.
The hotel’s general manager, Toni Spasovski, says the team has been left devastated by Dave’s death.“He was a great chef, a great friend and a popular part of the family,” he said.
“We have a tight-knit unit here and we’re mortified and devastated by what has happened.
"He was a unique free spirit with a gentle soul – a thoughtful, kind and beautiful person..."
“We know that we will have to move on – he would not have wanted us to let the place go to pieces.”
Friends say Dave loved nothing more than being on the beach with a beer and his nunchucks, a nod to a passion for martial arts which earned him the nickname Ninja Dave.
A close friend said: “ He was a unique free spirit with a gentle soul – a thoughtful, kind and beautiful person.
“He was passionate about his profession as a chef and was well-known and highly regarded in the town. He loved nothing more than cooking for friends and family, spending time on the beach, playing tennis and lived a very full and sociable life.
“Dave had a love of alternative literature, and enjoyed sharing his views on life in a very thought-provoking way. Knowing him has been a privilege and every moment spent with him will be treasured.”
Dave is survived by his mum Jill, 57, dad Terry, 63, and siblings Daniel, 37, Amy, 28, Joel, 19, and Jacob, 13.
A post-mortem examination is expected to be held today ahead of any funeral arrangements being made.
The Crescent Turner is hosting a jazz night from 7pm today to celebrate Dave’s life.
There are also plans to plant a tree and install a bench in his memory.
“We can’t bring him back but we can keep his memory alive,” said Mr Spasovski.
Police investigating the crash are thought to be reviewing CCTV footage from the nearby Two Brewers pub.
Dave, of Tankerton Road, was cycling home from work at 8.30pm when he was in a collision with a Vauxhall Vivaro van travelling in the opposite direction near the junction with Saddleton Road.
Members of the public came to his aid and emergency crews were called, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
The van driver was arrested at the scene in connection with the crash at 9.50pm.
He was later bailed until April 28 pending further inquiries.
Police are asking anyone who witnessed the crash or the moments before or after to call the serious collision investigation unit on 01622 798538, quoting reference MW/46/17.