Tributes to soldier Mark McKeen who died in car crash

Police at the scene of the crash on the Leyburn Road, Catterick.
Police at the scene of the crash on the Leyburn Road, Catterick.

A 23-year-old soldier from Northern Ireland has been named as one of two victims of a car crash in England.

Mark McKeen – described as a “first-class soldier” – died at the scene of the accident in north Yorkshire, whilst a 20-year-old female comrade was taken to hospital, but also passed away.

The black Seat Ibiza they were travelling in had left the road and collided with a tree at around 8pm on Saturday.

Both were stationed in a nearby Army base.

Trooper McKeen, originally from Londonderry, had been posted to Afghanistan twice, and handsome tribute was paid to the young Ulsterman by Major Hugh Pearce-Gould, speaking on behalf of the Royal Dragoon Guards.

Major Pearce-Gould, Officer Commanding B (The Black Horse) Squadron, said: “Trooper Mark McKeen was a well-rounded individual and a first-class soldier; his loss will be keenly felt by all who knew him. He was a popular and engaging member of the regiment.

“He served with great courage and dedication on two difficult and dangerous tours of Afghanistan.

“His untimely loss is a terrible tragedy but his memory will always be cherished by The Royal Dragoon Guards and those of us fortunate enough to have known him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

The Deputy Mayor of Derry, Gary Middleton, said he went to school with Trooper McKeen.

“This is devastating news,” said the unionist councillor.

“I went to school with him and served in the army cadets with him, too.

“He was a bubbly character, outgoing and very keen. He was always very focused on what he was doing. He will be missed.”

Tropper McKeen had been driving when the crash occurred near Catterick Golf Club.

No other vehicle was involved.

The second deceased was named as Private Codie Richardson, from Stockton-on-Tees, who had been with the regiment for five months.