Tributes to Polish man killed on tracks

The scene of last week's tragedy.
The scene of last week's tragedy.

A funeral Mass is to be said in St Peter’s Church in Lurgan next week for 48-year-old Polish national Leszek Pichalski who died on the railway track near the town last Thursday.

Mr Pichalski, who worked at ABP Beef in Annesborough for almost 10 years, was hit by a train travelling from Portadown towards the station at William Street.

His wife Elizabeth and his son Patryk flew in from Poland on Sunday and are being aided by the Honorary Polish Consul for NI Mr Jerome Mullen.

Mr Mullen said his family had been concerned and had booked a flight to Northern Ireland prior to the incident. Mr Pichalski had been home to Poland just weeks before his death.

He said Leszek had come to Lurgan for work but had become very down in recent months.

Mr Mullen said this is the eighth suicide in the Polish community he has dealt with in the past year. “It’s a very worrying problem. People should be aware how difficult it can be for people to leave their friends and family behind in Poland and realise why they have travelled a very long way away, for one purpose, to earn a living,” said Mr Mullen who urged people to befriend Polish people and make them feel welcome.

The Polish Consul revealed that he is organising a Mass for Mr Pichalski in St Peter’s Church next week but the date has not yet been confirmed. After the funeral Mr Pichalski’s remains will be cremated.

Colleagues of Mr Pichalski, who was employed in the packing area of ABP Beef, held a minute’s silence last Friday.

His manager Mickey Gray said: “He was a very hard worker. He always did his job to the best of his abilities, was a genuine and very likable person. He got on well with everyone and greeted his colleagues with a hand shake and a smile in the morning.

“He made friends with all nationalities and all departments within the factory. Everyone was shocked and saddened with his tragic loss,” he said.

“Leszek was a keen follower of Polish football and indeed a lot of other sports. He enjoyed a sociable drink and was very popular among his colleagues and in the Lurgan area.”

ABP Beef has offered Mr Pichalski’s family any assistance they may need.

Rail services were halted in both directions on Thursday following the incident. Northern Ireland Ambulance Service spokesman John McPoland said they were called to an incident after a man was hit by a train at around 4pm.

Two appliances from Lurgan Fire Station attended and helped with ladders to take passengers from the train.

A Translink spokesperson said: “We would like to extend our condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.”

A bus which was carrying passengers from Lurgan to Portadown was involved in a collision with a van at Highfield Road. Some train passengers were on the bus making their way to Portadown.

Translink said: “This was an entirely separate incident involving an Ulsterbus 42 Service bus, which collided with a van near Highfield around 6pm on Thursday, April 24.

“There were 14 passengers on board the service and emergency services attended the scene. No injuries were sustained.”

For support on issues raised in this article contact Lifeline - the Northern Ireland crisis response helpline service for people who are experiencing distress or despair. Call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000.