Tributes have poured in for ‘full of life’ Jackson Turner who died after being injured in a three-car pile up in Co Antrim.
The primary four pupil at Sunnylands Primary School in Carrickfergus died in his parents’ arms several hours after the road crash in which his four-year-old sister Ally was also slightly injured.
The seven-year-old’s grandmother, Margaret Saunders, is in a critical condition.
Police said the collision, involving two Nissan cars and a Citroen, occurred at Old Carrick Road, Newtownabbey at about 6.30pm on Saturday.
Principal of Sunnylands Primary School Gareth Hamilton said: “This is an unbelievable tragedy. I am very shocked and to be honest it hasn’t really sunk in. He is a wee fella I knew well and so full of life and a great character.
“This is something we well have to support the children in his class through.”
Jackson’s mother Lynsey Turner, 37, choked back tears in her Co Antrim home as she recounted their last exchange before he died.
“I said to him, ‘See you later alligator,’ and I told him he’d taken my heart with him but that I’d get it back when I see him again. Then I kissed him and his daddy kissed him and we said goodbye for the last time.”
Mrs Turner said of her son: “Jackson was the star of our show. He was in the middle of everything – my wee sidekick. I didn’t go anywhere without him and he didn’t go anywhere without me.
“He was chatty and lovable and was very rarely quiet.“
He wouldn’t go past you without giving you a hug or asking you if you wanted a hug.
“He liked his drama, he loved his football – he wasn’t that good at it but he loved it all the same,” she told Belfast Live.
Only three days ago, Mrs Turner and her two children were excitedly unwrapping presents.
But now she is trying to find a way to tell his sister Ally that her big brother will not be coming home.
Mrs Turner said: “Ally was Jackson’s shadow. He looked after her in primary school and he made sure she got to class. They were best friends and she just loved to follow him about everywhere.
“She’s quiet. She knows he’s not coming back but she doesn’t understand why.”
Mrs Turner said Jackson spent every other day with his father, Alan Saunders, and that they were devoted to each other.
“He was daddy’s wee mucker too. Daddy couldn’t do anything wrong. Daddy this, daddy that. He saw his daddy every other day and he just loved him.”
Margaret Saunders was driving the two children back to their mother’s Carrickfergus home when the collision happened.
“I just was in the house waiting for them to come home. But then I got the phone call to say something terrible had happened and that I needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible,” Mrs Turner said.
Jackson’s life support was turned off a short time later.
She added that they are “so worried” about Mrs Saunders and hope she will pull through.
Mr Hamilton added: “Jackson stood out to me as a real character. He was a wee boy who was full of life and just loved to get involved with anything going on. One memory I have of him as well is that he was such a caring big brother.
“I used to stand at the gates in the morning and watch him take his wee sister’s hand as he brought her into school. She is a lovely, smiling wee girl. This will be such a loss for her because she was so proud of her big brother.
He added: “He was a king in the nativity recently and I am standing looking at a picture of him in it with a big grin on his face. He will be sorely missed by the whole school community.”
Jackson was the 75th person to die on Ulster’s roads this year.
The PSNI said five people from two other cars suffered non-life threatening injuries.
They are appealing for witnesses to the collision.