Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Tragedy survivor Tyler set for thrill of a lifetime

Brave boy has a soccer treat in store

LITTLE Tyler Watson, who nearly died in a horrific road crash that robbed him of his parents, is to become the mascot for the day of the soccer team his dad adored.

LITTLE Tyler Watson, who nearly died in a horrific road crash that robbed him of his parents, is to become the mascot for the day of the soccer team his dad adored.

The four-year-old, who is slowly recovering from the injuries that almost killed him, will lead out Premier League club Liverpool at Windsor Park on Saturday when they play mighty Benfica in the Carlsberg Belfast Challenge.

And during the game he and his sister Connie (7) will take their seats in the directors' box accompanied by their guardians Jason and Joanne Watson of Ballygomartin Road, Belfast, who have been looking after the children since the death crash at Ballybogy near Ballymoney.

"We are giving the pair of them a day out," said Joanne. "They are thrilled and happy and can't wait."

As a taster for the big match Tyler and Connie visited the Oval where Liverpool launch their Carlsberg Belfast Challenge on Thursday night against home team Glentoran.

The children played behind one of the goals and watched groundsmen grooming the pitch for the match.

It's exactly a year since Tyler and Connie's mum and dad, Justin Watson (24) and his wife Charmaine (27) of Dundonald, lost their lives when their Vauxhall Corsa was struck at 100mph by a stolen vehicle - one of whose passengers, Brian Donnelly, was also killed.

The couple, with Tyler in the car, were on their way from their home in Belfast to Portrush to spend the weekend with Justin's grandparents, Karl and Elizabeth Watson, in their holiday caravan.

Connie was already in Portrush with her great-grandparents and the plan was that Justin and Karl would drive back to Belfast to see Liverpool play in last year's Carlsberg Challenge.

"But they never made it," said Joanne. "After the crash we thought Tyler was going to die, too.

"He suffered a broken chin and a ruptured spleen and his pancreas and liver were also damaged and he had a broken leg which is still giving him trouble.

"He turned blue and we feared for his life, but Tyler is a plucky little chap and he pulled through in intensive care at the Royal Victoria Hospital where he spent three months.

"I believe he had an out of body experience. He still talks about his daddy and mummy being lovely and sending him back to Connie."

There will be a full turn-out of the Watson clan to watch Tyler and Connie take the pitch with Michael Owen and the rest of the Liverpool team.

"For years the Watsons have been Liverpool fanatics," explained Jason.

"My cousin Justin would be proud to see his boy leading out the team he followed all his life. It will be a great night. I'm happy to see a light shining for the children again.

"It is magnificent that Liverpool agreed to have the children as their guests at the Oval.

"We talk to Tyler and Connie about their parents and show them pictures. We don't want them ever to forget their daddy and mummy. When we go to Windsor Park on Saturday we will tell them Justin and Charmaine are watching them and I'm certain they will be ."

Florida-based Noel Lemon, the Ulster-born promoter of the Carlsberg Belfast Challenge, who arranged the treat for the Watson children, said today: "This is a soccer occasion for families, so it is appropriate that Tyler and Connie, two little kids for whom life turned sour, should be given a treat."

In June, Desmond Patrick Savage (24) the driver of the car at Ballybogy, was jailed for eight years at Ballymena court on a charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

Meanwhile, the legendary Eusebio and Benfica fly into Aldergrove this evening to join Liverpool, Irish League Champions Linfield and Irish Cup holders Glentoran in the Carlsberg Belfast Challenge. Benfica play Linfield in the first match at Windsor Park tomorrow night at 8pm.

The big day is at Windsor on Saturday when first Linfield play Glentoran for the Wilkinson Sword Charity Shield (2pm) and then Liverpool and Benfica meet (4pm).

Tickets are available at Ticketmaster's 24-hour telephone 0870-2434455 and at the usual soccer outlets across the province, or pay at the gate.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk