George Crawford, 20, from Melrose, was killed after being knocked down by a VW Golf driven by a 17-year-old in the Shropshire town of Newport in the early hours of Sunday morning.
He had only started an agricultural course at Harper Adams University in Shropshire a fortnight ago and was returning to the halls after a night out in nearby Newport town centre around 3:30am when the accident occurred.
George was taken by ambulance to Royal Stoke University Hospital, but he was pronounced dead on Sunday morning after more than seven hours of emergency surgery.
His parents were not informed by police until around 7pm that day as officers initially believed the victim was Crawford’s university friend Oliver Smith.
Father Cameron Crawford, a 51-year-old Borders farmer and estate owner, said: “It turns out that George had Olly’s wallet and Olly had George’s. They were similar and Olly thinks they got mixed up when they were at the chip shop together. And obviously in the emergency mayhem, clearly the priority was to try to save George. But, harrowingly, Olly’s parents were called by the police and they waited for hours until asked to identify the body – and then realised it wasn’t Olly.
“Ironically, [my wife] Mary was down south on Sunday looking at universities for our daughter and I was in Yorkshire, so it is heart-breaking to think that when we were both travelling back to Scotland we could have been with our son in his final hours. That is really tough for us.”
Mary said: “It’s your worst nightmare and we’re living it. All I could do when the police officer came to the door and told me was scream. I still can’t believe he’s not here.” Investigations by West Mercia Police are continuing, but they said they could not confirm the identity of the victim as he had not yet been formally identified.
George was a leading teenage jockey until he outgrew the saddle and went on to represent Scotland as a three-day eventer – the sport in which his younger sister Lucinda is now a British champion.
Cameron said: “We’d like people to remember George as the incredibly caring, friendly and sociable lad that made us all incredibly proud.”