The best friend of a man killed in a car crash on Monday evening has described his devastation at finding him at the scene when called to help with the rescue in his role as a part-time firefighter in the area.
Jonny Buckley, a semi-professional road racer from Dunadry, died after the one-car crash on the Braepark Road in Ballyclare.
Best friend John Clements was part of the team of fire officers called out to the scene of the accident. Mr Clements said he was the 27-year-old’s best friend and was shocked to come upon his car.
“I knew as soon as I saw the area we were going to and the car – that BMW was his pride and joy, it was kept immaculate,” he told the News Letter.
“I always knew it was going to happen (finding someone he knew at an accident scene) at some point but I never thought it would be my best friend.”
Mr Clements said he will remember his friend, for whom he fixed bikes and who he accompanied to all the races, as “a real character who would have done anything for anyone”.
William Kerr, a passenger in the car and the person who raised the alarm after the crash, was taken to hospital to be treated for his injuries.
Mr Buckley’s father Keith said it brings some comfort to the family to know that his son’s organs will be donated to help others. He added that the family have been overwhelmed by the tributes paid to the racer, who rode with the number 222 on his back.
“He was voted Ireland’s most promising short circuit racer in 2007 and was always a serious competitor,” said Mr Buckley, a former Isle of Man TT competitor and owner of Module, a race clothing company in Antrim.
“To find he was so popular has helped the whole family to cope with this devastating news. Jonny was always a kind hearted person, would always help anyone in need and had a wicked sense of humour and could always find the comical side in any situation.”
Mr Buckley, who was born in Kent and moved to Northern Ireland with his family aged five, won the Irish Superbike Championship in Kirkistown on Easter Monday this year. His father said he was looking forward to the coming Sunflower event at Bishopscourt in Co Down.
Tributes were also paid to the racer on Twitter by many, including Moto GP rider Michael Laverty and Isle of Man TT rider Ryan McKay.