Second sudden death rocks group of teenage friends

Shane Richardson from Portadown died suddenly on Tuesday
Shane Richardson from Portadown died suddenly on Tuesday

A Portadown youth worker said his community is devastated after the second death of a teenager from the same friendship group this summer.

Police said a 16-year-old male, now named locally as Shane Richardson, was rushed from the Brownstown area to hospital on Tuesday where it was confirmed he had passed away.

A post-mortem will take place on Thursday to determine the cause of death.

In May police said they were investigating a possible link with drugs in the sudden death of Caitlin White (Shortland), who died on May 20 after collapsing in nearby Corcrain woodlands.

Darryn Causby, manager of the YMCA centre in Portadown, told the News Letter that both teens were in the same friendship group but that the cause of death had not been confirmed in either case.

Caitlin, 15, was from Laurelvale, he said, but both were pupils at Craigavon Senior High School and she often socialised in Portadown.

“Shane had been a regular member of the YMCA in Portadown up until a few years ago,” he said.

“For that particular group of young people, they would never pass you in the street without saying hello. My heart just breaks for them and his family.

“Shane was a bit of a character, like most lads his age he was a bit boisterous but he was well mannered and never caused us any issues.

“I just can’t believe this has happened to him. This is the second young person in that friendship group to have died this summer.

“It must be just devastating now for Shane’s family and friendship group.”

As a near neighbour of Shane’s in the Rectory area of the town, Mr Causby said the local community is devastated.

“I took a walk up to the local shops this morning and there was a real sense that this is devastating ... the loss of another young life ... Some of us working with young people are wondering what we can do, what support can we offer? Two families have now suffered major losses in a number of months.”

Mr Causby, a DUP councillor, is also vice chair of the board of governors at Craigavon Senior High School, where Shane and Caitlin were pupils. He said Caitlin’s death left a sense of loss “just hanging in the air” at the school.

Prior to her death his YMCA centre had brought in an alcohol and drugs information programme, he said. “We are trying to educate young people as best we can.”

Paula Downing, Craigavon Senior High School principal, said: “Our entire school community is deeply saddened to learn of the sudden death of one of our Year 12 pupils. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this very difficult time.

“The school has put arrangements in place to ensure that specialist support is available to help pupils come to terms with this tragic loss. We are making every effort to ensure that they are fully supported.”

• Three males aged 15, 17 and 19 were arrested by police investigating Caitlin’s death. A police spokeswoman said they remain on bail.