'Nothing in this world is ever going to replace him' - family numb with grief after taxi driver killed by own car
The heartbroken family of a taxi driver who was killed when his own car ran over him have been left numb with grief following the freak accident.
Brian Braiden (50) from Belfast told an elderly lady she didn't need to get out of his car to close her gate after he picked her up on Monday afternoon, for what should have been a typical airport run.
"He insisted that he would do it," his devastated sister-in-law Margaret Kell said last night.
"That was just the way of him - he would do anything to help anyone."
But as the Value Cabs driver of 20 years was closing the gate of the 87-year-old's property on the Antrim Road, his vehicle rolled down the steep hill towards him.
"We all feel so bad for that woman - she desperately tried to reach for the handbrake, but it was a modern car which had a button brake instead," Margaret said.
"It breaks our hearts to think what she went through and we would like her to know that we are all thinking of her, especially Brian's wife Carol."
The lady is now believed to be in Singapore visiting her son.
Margaret paid tribute to her brother-in-law, who was a "devoted husband, father and grandfather" and "lived and breathed" for his family.
"They meant the world to him - not a day went by when he didn't say 'I love you' to all of them," she said.
"He would torture his kids on the phone until they answered, just to say those three words."
The father-of-four had spoken to his yoga instructor wife Carol just moments before the tragedy unfolded.
"They did everything together and had just made plans for that evening," Margaret said. "They regularly went power walking in the evenings."
Shortly after he hung up the phone, Carol received a devastating phone call from police while she was out shopping close to her Sackville Court home.
"She begged to go to the hospital to be with him when they met her, but they took her home and told her that Brian was gone.
"Carol just can't believe it - none of us can get our heads around it."
Margaret said she has "never seen a happier couple" and described the pair, who have been together for 20 years, as "soul mates".
They had only married three years ago at a ceremony in Cyprus.
Carol's sister said she has no doubt that the "big close-knit" family will rally round each other to get through the difficult days that lie ahead, including the couple's children Johnnine, Tammie, Ross and Leith.
Fighting back tears, she added: "Carol knows they will all be there for her, but nothing in this world is ever going to replace him.
"She's trying so hard to be strong, but how tough can anyone be? She's just torn apart on the inside."
Carol has eight siblings, dozens of nieces and nephews and a 14-year-old grandson. Brian also leaves behind two sisters.
"It's a very big family, which is what made Christmas so special," Margaret said.
"They enjoyed going out shopping and having drinks in December - but that isn't going to happen any more."
Margaret, who described Brian as "the nicest guy you could ever meet", said he was the "life and soul" of any party.
"But he lived for his wife and kids and was happy to let the world sail on by," she added.
He also cared for his ill mother, who is in her late 70s and needs an oxygen tank to breathe.
"He checked on her at least four times a day - he always brought her dinner and a wee ice cream in the evenings. He'd go there first thing in the morning and last thing at night and he always told her that he loved her - she is completely devastated too."