A LURGAN flute band has been left reeling after two of its members were involved in a road crash that left one young girl dead and the sister of another bandsman critically ill.
Katherine Kelley, aged 21, died in hospital on Sunday after she was critically injured in the crash on the Armagh Road, Portadown in the early hours of Saturday.
Her friend and Craigavon Protestant Boys Flute Band member Scott Houston, aged 20, from Mourneview is in a critical but stable condition at Craigavon Area Hospital.
Claire Gough, whose brother Colin is in the band, remains critically ill at the Royal Victoria Hospital.
Another bandsman Daniel Dougan was also injured in the crash which happened between 2.30am and 3am on Saturday morning. Daniel has since been released from hospital.
Ryan Mercer, chairman of Craigavon Protestant Boys Flute Band, said everyone was shocked at the news.
“It’s a sad time. It makes it even worse when they are so young,” said Mr Mercer.
“People will need time to relate to what’s happened. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families.
“It is a sad a tragic loss for the family of that young girl Katherine Kelley.
“I just hope we don’t hear any more bad news this week.
“All I can say is we are thinking about them all the time and our thoughts go out to all the families at the minute. It’s a worrying time and a sad time,” said Mr Mercer.
He said all the boys went regularly to practice and played regularly with the band. “Sure the band season is only just finished. They would have all gone out socialising together,” he added.
“You can’t begin to take in what those people are going through.”
Jonathan Mercer, chairman of the Mourneview Residents’ Association, who is also in the Craigavon Protestant Boys Flute Band, said the community was devastated by what had happened.
He said he knows Scott, a former pupil of Craigavon Senior High School, very well and had passed the crash on his way to Dublin, not realising it involved someone he knew.
Scott’s Facebook site has been flooded with well-wishers. Emma Morrison posted: “Keep checking my phone to see if I’ve a messege to say you’ve opened your eyes or there’s that wee bit of a change. You haven’t left my mind wee man. Everyone cares about you and praying and hoping you pull through. Prove us all right and show us you’re a strong fella and you can do it.”
Charlene Stewart posted: “Praying for you Scott. Everyone knows you can do it, keep fighting”.
Tributes were paid to the victims of the crash at Craigavon Borough Council’s meeting on Monday night.
Mayor Carla Lockhart said she was ‘deeply shocked’ to hear of the death of Katherine Kelley.
“She was only 21 and had so much to live for. It highlights the dangers of our roads,” said the Mayor.
She revealed she had visited Katherine’s home and that her family were ‘absolutely devastated’ by what had happened.
“It breaks my heart to hear so many young people pouring out their hearts and showing what Katherine meant to them.
She asked that the Council look into measure to promote road safety in the Borough.
DUP Cllr Darren Causby said words could not describe the tragedy in the Kelley family.
“Her organs saved the lives of a little baby with her liver and her other organs were also donated. Her mother was immensely proud,” said Cllr Causby.
Ulster Unionist Cllr Ronnie Harkness said it had been a ‘horrendous week’ in the Borough.
Sinn Fein Cllr Gemma McKenna said: “It has been a devastating week for the borough with the deaths of Sam Sloane, Katherine Kelley and Charlie Lavery, all at different stages in their lives.” adding that it was a dreadful loss for their family and friends.
Road Safety Minister Alex Attwood expressed his concern about the road crash.
“This was a terrible incident and is a very harrowing time for the families of all. Our thoughts and prayers are very much with them at this worrying time. It is particularly poignant given that all the injured are young people with so much to live for.
“I am been kept informed of the circumstances of the incident and kept up to date on the word from the hospitals.”