The two young men who were killed in a road accident in Co Armagh yesterday morning have been described as fun-loving and a credit to their families and the community.
Andrew Gass and Mark Hutcheson, both 17-year-old engineering students, died after their car left the Cladymilltown Road between Markethill and Newtownhamilton at around 8.30am.
The pair were travelling to college in Portadown when their Vauxhall Astra left the road. Their deaths bring the number of people killed on Northern Ireland’s roads already in 2016 to five.
One other passenger in the car survived and is reported to be in a stable condition in hospital.
Six-year-old Joshua Kelly died on Wednesday after being struck by a vehicle in Newtownards.
Yesterday’s victims were members of Mountnorris Young Farmers’ Club, which postponed last night’s AGM as a mark of respect.
A club spokesman said Andrew and Mark were “fun-loving”, adding: “They were always the life of the group – they added mischief and fun to every meeting. Both boys were a credit to the Hutcheson and Gass families and the community.”
The recent tragedies have led roads minister Mark H Durkan to call for greater vigilance. “These deaths serve as a reminder of the danger we all face when we use the road, it is the most dangerous thing most of us do every day. We take it for granted, but we cannot afford to do so,” he said.
Mr Durkan said his thoughts were with the families affected, and added: “I remain committed to doing all that I can to prevent the pointless tragedies on our roads.
“I have personally made road safety a priority and I will continue to work with my Executive colleagues...to improve road safety,” he added.
Last night a woman in her 30s was reported to be critically ill in hospital after being struck by a vehicle at Newcastle Road, Dundrum, shortly before 8pm. She was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital.