Thursday 18 January 2018

Road crash victims had been friends since school

Emergency services remove the car in which two teenage students died in Co Armagh. Photo: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press Intl
Emergency services remove the car in which two teenage students died in Co Armagh. Photo: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press Intl

Cate McCurry and Caroline Crawford

Two students who were killed in a horrific road crash as they made their way to college have been described as "caring" and "hardworking" life-long friends.

The tragic accident happened when the car they were travelling in left the road as dense fog made visibility extremely poor.

The 17-year-olds, named locally as Andrew Gass from Tullyallen, Co Louth, and Mark Hutcheson from Mountnorris, Co Armagh, were the driver and front-seat passenger in a Vauxhall Astra.

A third teenager is being treated in Craigavon Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

The tragedy happened on the Cladymilltown Road, between Markethill and Newtownhamilton in Co Armagh.

The two students went to the Southern Regional College in Armagh. They attended the Hamilstonsbawn Road Centre campus where they were studying fabrication and welding.

Students and teachers were in shock yesterday as news of their deaths began to circulate.

The life-long friends also worked as apprentices at SFS Plastics in Mountnorris.

Brian Simms, managing director of the manufacturing company, said the whole community has been left shocked by the deaths. "They were two lovely and pleasant lads to work with and we will miss them very much," he said.

"We will never replace them and they were very good friends. They went through school together from a young age.

"It's been a tremendous shock to us all, it's unbelievable and such a tragedy. They are two of the hardest working fellas I have ever worked with in my life."

The deaths were among a series of tragedies on the roads north and south of the border in recent days.

A young man who died in a single car crash in Spiddal, Co Galway, on Wednesday night has been named locally as Declan Clyne.

Mr Clyne, who was from Inverin, was the sole occupant of the car, which crashed into a wall on the R336 at Baile Liam, in Spiddal, at 11.55pm on Wednesday.

Mr Clyne was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Galway where he was later pronounced dead.

In Co Down, a six-year-old schoolboy died after being hit by a car close to his family home.

Joshua Kelly, a student at St Finian's primary school in Newtownards, was just metres from his family home on the Scrabo Road when the incident happened on Wednesday afternoon around 3pm.

Yesterday, his mother Clare Kelly posted a picture on Facebook of herself and Joshua. Just one day after the tragedy, she said: "Yesterday my beautiful boy grew his wings. And I thank God for the six brilliant years I had him. RIP my wee bird."

Irish Independent

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