A father-of-two is fighting for his life after suffering a violent attack shortly after trying to stop bullies at a park from targeting his niece and nephew.
Josh Price, 21, was taking his young relations to play at Trinity Park in Ossett, on Saturday when he sustained life-threatening injuries.
Minutes after he had asked some teenagers to stop bullying his young relatives, a van pulled up close to the park and two men ran for him, knocking him to the ground and kicking and punching him.
Mr Price struggled to his feet and tried to run away but the men followed him and continued their violent attack, even assaulting people nearby who came to his rescue, before they fled and left their victim for dead.
The keen rugby player and father to young children Lacey and Dylan was rushed to Leeds General Infirmary for life-saving surgery after suffering a stroke and is now paralysed down the right-hand side of his body.
He also suffered a blood clot on his brain and was put into a medically-induced coma. It is not clear whether the attack by the two men was linked to his confrontation with the teenagers minutes earlier.
Police have arrested and bailed a 23-year-old man in connection with the attack on Mr Price but are appealing for witnesses to come forward.
Mr Price had finished playing in Ossett Trinity’s victory against rivals Eastmoor on Saturday when the attack occurred. After the game he took his niece and nephew to play in a park next to the ground.
Mr Price’s father Stuart, 43, was away on holiday in Spain when he heard of the incident and rushed home to be at his son’s side. He said: “As a parent you never want to see your child like that. We are all numb and in total shock. We’re barely functioning as a family. Josh’s children need their dad, they’re asking where their daddy is and we can’t answer them, it’s devastating.
“We need the people who did this to Josh catching.”
Doctors have told the family they don’t know what the full extent of the 21-year-old’s injuries will be. At the moment he is paralysed down the right hand side of his body and his speech is impaired. His father said: “It’s crushed us. Rugby was his life and now it’s been taken away. He’ll never play again.”
Mr Price has been moved from intensive care into a high dependency unit but doctors have warned that there is scarring on his brain and another blood clot could form at any time.
Jonny Bond, a coach at Ossett Trinity Amateur Rugby League Football Club, where Mr Price is a member and plays at half-back, said: “The club is absolutely devastated by this incident.
“Josh is part of our rugby family and we will support him and his family in any way we can on his long road to recovery.”
Detectives from West Yorkshire Police were called to the scene of the attack at about 9.40pm on Saturday.
Detective lnspector Paul Harrison, of Wakefield CID, said: “A 23-year-old man was arrested in connection with the incident but has been released on police bail.
“Our enquiries are ongoing and we would like to hear from anyone who witnessed this vicious assault.”
Anyone with information should contact Wakefield CID on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.