A HEARTBROKEN wife has paid tribute to her “funny, noisy, colourful” loving husband after he died in a three-vehicle collision on the M1.
Claire Mercer described her husband Jason (44), who was one of two men killed in the crash last Friday morning, as “extremely clever while being the daftest person you ever met”.
A 39-year-old man from Hull was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving at the scene of the crash near Meadowhall, which happened at 8.30am and involved a silver Ford Focus, a silver Ford transit van and a lorry.
No details about the second victim will be released at the request of his family, police said.
The death of popular and distinctive Jason, of Moorgate, was described as a “devastating loss to our town” and anti-fascist groups paid tribute to his courage in speaking out against “hate and division”.
Mrs Mercer said: “We have all lost a man that was strong, funny, noisy, colourful and amazing — you definitely knew when he was in the room!
“He went through a lot in his life but stayed strong, although he didn’t always believe he was strong.
“He was a big, pierced, tattooed bloke, who people that didn’t know him would sometimes look slightly worried to see walking towards them.”
Mrs Mercer revealed she had contacted the police before they had informed her of her husband’s death, adding: “I knew something was wrong and was already on the phone to the police before they arrived at my door purely because my loving husband hadn’t contacted me, just to tell me he loved me, in a few hours.”
She said music lover Jason loved documentaries, “head-banging”, whiskey and was a huge Rotherham Titans fan.
Cllr Taiba Yasseen called him an “unsung hero” whom she said had fought for justice and equality.
She said: “Jason was a humble and beautiful person and his death is a devastating loss to our town.
“He was an imposing looking person when you first met him (possibly even alarming to some!), complete with pink hair, tattoos and piercings, but he was such a gentle man who loved cats and believed in people — all people.
“He didn’t believe in sitting back when he saw injustice. He and his partner Claire Mercer would stand up and fight for the rights of others. They believed together passionately in fairness and equality.”
Cllr Yasseen said Jason had been a witness in support of 12 Asian men tried for and later acquitted of violent disorder after trouble flared on Wellgate in 2015, following a far-right march and a counter-protest.
“Never one for accolades, he embodied that idea of an unsung hero, the decent ordinary Rotherham man and brother with a strong community spirit,” she said.
Phil Turner, convenor of Rotherham Unite Against Fascism and Stand Up To Racism, called Jason was “a principled anti-racist and anti-fascist campaigner”.
Jason had “stood out for his courage — and Mohican hair” in the face of the far-right protest, said Mr Turner, giving key evidence in trials of the 12 cleared men and four men convicted of attacking them.
Jason was a lovely, larger than life guy who will be sadly missed,” he said.
A spokesman for the Rotherham 12 campaign — which supported the accused Asian men — paid tribute to Jason.
“He stood where others were afraid to against hate and division,” he said.
Police are asking witnesses to the fatal collision, which happened on the northbound carriageway near junction 34, to call 101, quoting incident 196 of June 7.
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