Heartfelt tributes have been paid to 13-year-old Christopher McAlinden who died in a tragic accident on the railway line near Lurgan.
A second year pupil at Banbridge Academy, Christopher was described as a ‘very special young man’ by principal Mr Raymond Pollock.
He described how the sad news spread through the school community last Wednesday evening and the ‘great sadness and outpouring of grief’ following Christopher’s tragic death.
Christopher, the son of David and Dympna McAlinden, has a sister Lauren. The family lived in the Craigavon area before moving to Magheralin in recent years.
It is understood Christopher was killed around 7.30pm on Wednesday evening when he was struck by a train in what has been described as a ‘truly tragic accident’.
Local SDLP Councillor and family friend Declan McAlinden said his death had shocked everyone.
“This is a truly devastating and shocking accident. I know the family circle very well. They are all devastated and everyone is still trying very hard to come to terms with this shocking news,” he said.
“Anyone I have been speaking to expressed just what a pleasure it was to have known him even for those short number of years,” he said.
Mr Pollock said: “Our hearts go out to them at this time of devastating loss, pain and bereavement. We assure them of the love, support and prayers of this entire school community.
“Christopher McAlinden was a very special young man whose passing has left a huge gap in our school family. He was highly respected by all who knew him and especially in his Form Class 9D of which he was a valued member. Christopher was an able pupil who enjoyed school life and undoubtedly a bright future lay ahead for him as he worked hard to fulfil his potential. He was a quiet, friendly, warm-hearted, genuine young man who was loved by everyone.
“We are totally devastated by his loss and filled with a sense of shock and disbelief at losing someone so young, just starting to make his way in life.”
Mr Pollock also praised his staff for the manner in which they attended to the needs of pupils. “There was great sadness and outpouring of grief and I want to thank my colleagues in school for the sensitive manner in which they provided support and care for our pupils at such a traumatic time. I have been so impressed by the manner in which Christopher’s friends have rallied round to support each other.”
His funeral took place on Sunday at St Patrick’s Church in Magheralin. He was later buried at St Patrick’s Cemetery in Derrymacash.