Mother of NI’s 2005 tsunami victim found after search

Mrs Teresa Keightley's son died in the 2005 tsunami
Mrs Teresa Keightley's son died in the 2005 tsunami

Cookstown woman Teresa Keightley has died after being reported missing in the Co Tyrone town earlier this week and being the subject of a police appeal.

Mrs Keightley (72) was the mother of the only Northern Irish victim of the 2005 south-east Asia tsunami that killed thousands of people.

Police had issued an appeal for information in which they stated Mrs Keightley was last seen around 4pm on Monday, close to the town’s Glenavon Hotel.

Mrs Keightley’s daughter Karina, who went to Thailand to help search for her brother Connor, had asked people to pray for her mother’s safe return on Facebook, saying: “Please keep praying really hard.”

However in a statement yesterday police said their search had been closed. “The individual is no longer considered a missing person,” police said. “At the request of the family there will be no further comment.”

In a funeral notice Mrs Keightley was described as a “devoted mother” to Michelle McCaughey, Darina Duffin and the late Connor, “precious grandmother” of Kylie, Ryan, Katelyn and Caolan, great-grandmother to Corey and Harper and “cherished” mother in-law of Bernard and Malachy.

She was left devastated after the death of her son, Connor, in Thailand 14 years ago.

Connor hadn’t been in touch with his family after the tsunami struck on Boxing Day, prompting frantic efforts to find him.

Family members travelled to Thailand to help in the search. The day before they were due to return home, his remains were found in a makeshift mortuary in Krabi, a town on the Phi Phi islands.

He was identified by his dental records, a tattoo and a distinctive watch that he had been wearing at the time of the disaster.

Cookstown Ulster Unionist Councillor Trevor Wilson extended his “deepest condolences” to the family circle yesterday.

The funeral will take place from her home at 9 Forthill Rise, Westland Road, Cookstown, on Saturday Tuesday 8 December at 12.15 for 1.00pm requiem Mass in Holy Trinity Church Cookstown.

At the time of the disaster, Connor’s parents, Dermot and Teresa, spoke of their relief at being able to lay their son to rest despite the grief they felt at his passing.

“It was heartbreaking. But I was glad that he was found and that he would not be missing for the rest of our lives,” Theresa said.

“Thank God he has been found and that is a comfort to us.”

• The Samaritans helpline number is tel 116 123.