Two young men who were killed in a road collision in Co Down were “great characters” who will be sorely missed, the Southern Regional College in Newry has said.
The pair, both thought to be in their late teens, were killed when the Volkswagen Bora car they were travelling in left the road close to the village of Rostrevor just before midnight on Monday.
They have been named locally as Eoin Farrell from Rostrevor and James Miskelly from Mayobridge.
A third man remains critically ill in hospital. <–––>
All three were studying heavy vehicle maintenance at the college’s Greenbank campus.
The car struck a wall, leading to an oil tank igniting with the fire then spreading to an adjacent bungalow.
An elderly woman in the house at the time was treated for shock but was otherwise uninjured
In a statement, released through its chief executive Brian Doran, the college said: “The board of governors, principal and staff of Southern Regional College are deeply saddened to learn of the devastating news of the tragic passing in a road traffic accident of two of our engineering students.
“Both students were studying heavy vehicle maintenance at our Greenbank campus.
“The two students were great characters, with a close bond in the classroom and will be sorely missed by staff and their fellow students alike.
“The College would like to pass on our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families and loved ones.
“Our thoughts are also with the family of the third student who was involved in the accident and we wish him well in his recovery.” <–––>
Independent councillor Jarlath Tinnelly described the incident as “absolutely horrific”.
He said: “This area has been hit very hard this year with quite a few fatalities.
“We’ve seen these hard-hitting TV adverts, but to actually see that played out in real life.
“Think what it’s like for those parents to receive that knock on the door at two or three o’clock in the morning.
“It is just unimaginable what they are going through.
“Heartfelt and sincere condolences to the families involved.
“And for the other man who is seriously ill I would wish him a speedy recovery. <–––>
“His family are very much in all of our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time for everybody.”
PSNI Inspector Stephen Humphries said: “We are working to establish the circumstances of the collision and I am appealing for witnesses to come forward.
“I would also like to hear from anyone who was travelling on the Kilbroney Road prior to the time of the collision and who may have seen a silver Volkswagen Bora on the road.”
He urged them to contact police by dialling 101.
A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said two appliances from Warrenpoint and two from Newry attended the crash scene.
He said: “It is believed the car left the road and collided with the perimeter wall of a bungalow in the area.
“A fire at the house began as a result of the incident, which was dealt with by firefighters wearing breathing apparatus and using thermal imaging cameras and two water jets.
“Tragically two males were fatally injured during the incident, with another male taken to a nearby hospital for treatment to his injuries.”
SDLP councillor Gillian Fitzpatrick said there was “heartbreak” across Mayobridge and Rostrevor following the tragedy.
“I was absolutely heartbroken when I heard about this accident on the Kilbroney Road,” she said.
“Two young men who had everything to live for are now dead and a third is in a critical condition. <–––>
“The pain across the community is very raw.
“All of these young men were close to our family and we’re totally shocked.
“My thoughts and prayers are with their families at this immensely difficult time.
“I know the entire community in Mayobridge and Rostrevor will rally around them and offer our unconditional support.”
South Down MP Margaret Ritchie also expressed her condolences.
Mrs Ritchie said: “This tragic accident has sent shockwaves throughout South Down.
“Another accident on our roads has left families and friends grieving. My deepest sympathies are with them as they begin to grieve.
“I want to also pay tribute to the firefighters who attended the scene last night as a nearby house caught fire.
“Their bravery, as always, was immense and they helped prevent a tragedy becoming worse.”
The road was re-opened to traffic at lunchtime yesterday.