THE family of a young man who died in a road accident in Las Vegas earlier this month has paid tribute to a person who ‘always knew how to make people laugh’.

Matthew Hickie (30), of Otterburn, died while in the American city just before 1am on Sunday, January 12.

Matthew, who worked as front of house at the Le Petit Chateau hotel in the village, was an avid Newcastle United fan who followed the Magpies both home and away, and even into Europe.

His sister Charlotte said: “Matthew was a well-mannered, caring, generous and helpful man who thrived off meeting new people.

“Matthew made a lasting impression on everyone that he met. He had an excellent sense of humour and knew exactly how to make people laugh with his impressions and comedic observations.

“He was a caring son, brother, uncle, grandson and friend to all ages.”

Matthew was born and raised in Otterburn, and boarded at Ridley Hall during his teenage years while attending Haydon Bridge High School.

His big passion was football and, when not playing it at North Shields Soccerdome, he was watching it as a season ticket holder at Newcastle United’s St James’s Park for the past 13 years.

Following the Premier League club took him far and wide, with trips including Portugal and Ukraine.

Travelling was another hobby of Matthew’s and he loved the outdoors. A holiday in America saw him raft 300 miles at the Grand Canyon, camp in the wild, and zip wire in Yosemite National Park.

He also enjoyed a camping trip to Canada.

He was a real thrill seeker and other interests included bungee jumping, driving supreme cars, going on snowboarding holidays, go karting and playing drums.

As well as enjoying football, Matthew was also a fan of the Newcastle Eagles basketball team and he enjoyed going to watch the darts at Newcastle Arena.

Friends of Matthew’s have set up a fund-raising page to create a memorial in his name to be placed in the village.

More than £5,000 has been raised so far, which included £535 raised by members of Hexham and District Sunday League teams Wark and Barrasford when the North Tyne rivals met at the weekend.

A total of £780 was also raised through North Shields Soccerdome.

Donations to the fund can be left at