A well-known Lancashire reporter has died suddenly, travelling to cover the final day of the fracking hearing.
Steve Becker, a senior broadcast journalist with BBC Radio Lancashire, died suddenly on Wednesday morning.
He was driving along the M6 motorway near Preston when he became ill.
There were no other vehicles involved.
He was on his way to Blackpool to cover a fracking hearing for Radio Lancashire.
He was 56 and lived in Chorley.
John Clayton, managing editor at Radio Lancashire, said: “Everyone at the station is utterly shocked and deeply saddened by Steve’s sudden death and our thoughts are with his wife Kath and his kids.
“Steve was our Blackpool and Fylde coast reporter. He was a dedicated and compassionate journalist who commanded the respect of his colleagues, our listeners and the whole Lancashire community.
“In the last few years, he had immersed himself in the issue of fracking and was committed to bringing our listeners the very best coverage of a story that directly affects so many of their lives and also attracts national headlines.
“We are all heartbroken at the sudden death of such a valued colleague and friend, who has worked here for so long.”
Aziz Rashid, the head of regional and local programming for the BBC in the North West, said: “Steve worked for the BBC for more than 30 years and has friends and former colleagues right across the organisation.
“He will be much missed by so many people but especially the team at Radio Lancashire, where he was such a vital part of the newsroom.
“He emailed me only yesterday to discuss his plans to cover the latest developments in the story of fracking in Lancashire. He had become a real authority on the issue.
“There are difficult days ahead for Steve’s family and they will be supported through them by the BBC.”
Andy Mitchell, News Editor at Blackpool-based Radio Wave, said: “I was devastated to hear of the death of my good friend and colleague Steve Becker from BBC Radio Lancashire.
“He was a fine journalist who covered Blackpool and the Fylde for many years. We had many laughs together quizzing the politicians and personalities of the day.
“Steve was always smiling, always enjoying the job. I learnt a lot from his incisive yet fair line of questioning.
“He was a friend to so many here in Blackpool, and he will be greatly missed among his colleagues in journalism across Lancashire.”