Cookstown crash victim to be buried in father’s motorbike leathers

The mangled wreckage at the scene of the fatal accident on the Old Coagh Road, Cookstown.
The mangled wreckage at the scene of the fatal accident on the Old Coagh Road, Cookstown.

The father of one of the young men killed in a weekend car crash has spoken in the wake of his loss.

Grant Archer, 23 and from Newmills, Co Tyrone, died alongside 28-year-old Cookstown man Robert Wilkinson when the car they were in went off the road at around 4am on Sunday.

Mr Archer’s father, Phillip, said that the young man had just begun settling down in life when the accident struck.

The father and son worked together at the same firm and shared a passion for motorbikes.

“He’s getting buried in my leathers,” said Mr Archer, 54, adding that the funeral will be at 3pm tomorrow at the Anglican church on Dungannon Road, Coalisland.

“He hadn’t been working from when he left school. I got him a job with me. He was going round clearing up money, and bought himself a motorbike – he was going to do his test next week for it.”

Asked to describe his son, he said: “He didn’t give much trouble. Quiet. Everybody liked him,” adding that he will be sadly missed.

Mr Archer said his son had left the house at about 9pm on Saturday, and that was all he knew.

The next time he saw him was Sunday afternoon, when he travelled to Belfast to formally identify his body.

He said both occupants of the car were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash, and that airbags had deployed too, adding that his son had been the passenger in the vehicle.

Gerald Muldoon, managing director of Dungannon-based Muldoon Transport Systems, where Grant Archer had worked for about two years as a mechanical technician, described him as very skilled.

“Everyone in our place is devastated,” said the 62-year-old.

“There’s about 60 who work here, and we all know each other well.

“He was very dedicated to his job, with a very pleasant nature – a model young lad.”

According to one source who came across the aftermath of the crash, the car had left the road and crashed firstly through a fence and then through a five-foot high pebble-dashed stone pillar which formed part of a wall, before coming to rest on its side.

It is believed the car was heading east on the Old Coagh Road, a straight-but-narrow national speed limit road on the outskirts of Cookstown.

One of the councillors for Cookstown, SDLP man Tony Quinn, said it had been several years since the last double road fatality in the region.

“It has affected everybody, both urban and rural dwellers,” he said.

“People are saddened and shocked. It’s been on the tips of people’s tongues yesterday and today [Sunday and Monday]. To lose two in one road traffic collision is so cruel.”

l In a separate incident, the Creggan Road in Londonderry was closed after about 3.45pm yesterday, following a report that a pedestrian had been hit.

A BMW allegedly involved in the incident then struck a Ford Puma car.

The BMW driver made off from the scene, before being arrested on suspicion of a number of motoring offences and assaulting police.

The female driver of the Puma sustained injuries to her neck, back, chest and legs, and had to be cut free from the vehicle.