A young Rathfriland man who was killed in a road traffic collision at the weekend was a popular teenager who had lots of friends, his funeral service has heard.
Christopher Hillis died after the car in which he was a back seat passenger was involved in a one-vehicle collision on the Banbridge Road, between Dromara and Kinallen shortly after 12.30am on Saturday.
Four other young men who were in the car at the time of the crash were injured and taken to hospital for treatment.
Mourners gathered at Third Rathfriland Presbyterian Church on Monday afternoon for the popular 18-year-old’s funeral service.
“Some people get to live until they’re old on this earth, that wasn’t to be for this young man,” Rev Seamus Burke told mourners.
“Christopher was the beloved son of Andrew and Judith. He has left behind two sisters, Aimee and Alyx, and a wider family that loved him very much. This day is difficult for them all.”
The congregation heard how Christopher was a pupil of Iveagh Primary School and went on to study at Rathfriland High School.
“He was bright at school, his teachers saw potential, but Chris was more interested in sport, then cars, later farming,” Rev Burke continued. “He played hockey, rugby, football in the Carnbane league; played for Rathfriland and Moneyslane.
“Chris had farming in the DNA, his dad and granddad were farmers and he spent a lot of time there. And so when he left school and got a job on a local farm, this was where he was really happy. He loved driving, and even tinkering with machinery, taking things apart, putting them back together again.
“Like any 18 year old, friends were very important and Christopher had lots of them. It was with his friends he was to spend his last hours. Family was important too. Christopher’s mother and father, sisters, Aimee and Alyx, grandparents Roy Hillis and Eric and Lottie Harbinson will sorely miss their beloved Christopher.”
Speaking shortly after news of the tragedy broke, Alderman Elizabeth Ingram BEM, who knows the Hillis family, said: “Christopher was a popular young man with many friends and came from a highly respected family. It is to his family and friends I would like to pass on my deep and heartfelt sympathy at the tragic passing of one so dear to them.”
The UUP representative extended her best wishes to the other young people involved in the tragic accident.
Many of Christopher’s friends took to social media to express their shock and sadness at his untimely passing.
One posted on Facebook: “Still can’t get over the news, taken far too young! You definitely did live life to the fullest. Rest in peace, party hard up there bud.”
Another wrote: “He would have done anything to help someone out. He will truly be missed by a lot of people.”
Following Monday’s funeral, Christopher was laid to rest in the adjoining churchyard.
Meanwhile, police officers investigating the circumstances of the fatal crash have appealed for anyone who witnessed the incident to contact the Collision Investigation Unit on 101 quoting reference number 50 of 28/10/17.