Over a thousand mourners attended the funeral of tragic teenage road victim Eamon McIntyre yesterday.
The sport-loving 17-year-old was travelling with a friend to his school formal at Tullyglass House Hotel in Ballymena when the Vauxhall Zafira he was driving was involved in a collision with a lorry on the Boleran Road between Garvagh and Ringsend last Wednesday evening.
Classmates at Loreto College in Coleraine — where Eamon was studying for his A-Levels — and members of Ballerin and Eoghan Rua gaelic clubs formed a guard of honour for their friend who was laid to rest just a stone's throw from his home in Ballerin near Garvagh.
The funeral cortege left the family home before travelling the short distance to St Mary's Church by foot for the service.
Due to the vast turnout hundreds of mourners were forced to listen to the service outside the church via loudspeakers. Local Sinn Fein councillor Billy Leonard said the size of the crowd in attendance for the youngster's funeral was testament to the high regard in which Eamon was held by his peers.
“There was a huge turnout and it is extremely sad,” said Cllr Leonard, whose son was a friend of the tragic teenager.
“This has been a dreadful blow to the entire community.”
Family friend, SDLP Assembly member John Dallat, who taught Eamon's father, said the community was still in shock following the accident.
“This is a very tight-knit community and the impact of this tragedy has been severe,” he said.
“The community is rallying around the family and the number of people at the funeral show how popular the young chap was.”
Pupils from Loreto College had made their way to the hotel in Ballymena for their annual formal when they were told the news that one of their schoolmates had died.
The distraught pupils began making their way home when the formal was cancelled.
A female passenger was taken to hospital with what police described as “non life-threatening injuries”.
The driver of the lorry was not injured but badly shaken.
Eamon's uncle, who he was named after, died in a car crash on the same stretch of road more than two decades ago.