Belfast Telegraph

Anguish of Jonny McHugh's friends after crash claims life of Bangor biker

By Claire McNeilly

Friends of a 32-year-old man who died after the motorcycle he was riding collided with a telegraph pole have said he will never be forgotten.

Jonny McHugh, from Bangor, was involved in a crash on the Glenariffe Road, Glenariff, on the eastern coast of Co Antrim, south of Cushendall.

Police said he was travelling with another motorcyclist, who was not involved in the collision, when it happened around 6pm on Saturday.

An Ambulance Service spokesman said a crew was called to the scene at 6.12pm and a rapid response paramedic arrived at 6.21pm.

He was taken to Antrim Area Hospital, where he later died.

Mr McHugh was the 13th person to die on Northern Ireland's roads this year.

Ten people died on our roads in the same period last year. Following news of Mr McHugh's death, tributes poured in for him on social media.

He had changed his Facebook profile picture in the early hours of Saturday to a picture taken of him outside the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, some years ago.

Close friend Graham Mason wrote: "Love you dude and I'm so glad I got to say that to you and have that one last heart to heart with you at the weekend.

"Gone but never forgotten. Rest in peace."

Another, Alan Feely, said: "Love you mate. Rest in peace x"

And Bryan Mason added: "Just like a brother to me... Absolutely heart-broken... see ya at the other side Jonny xxx."

A friend described him as "a bubbly character and cheeky who always had a smile on his face no matter what was going on around him".

Inspector Colin Shaw has appealed for witnesses to come forward.

"The police are keen to hear from anyone who witnessed the collision, or anyone who may have seen a pair of motorcyclists travelling in the direction of Ballymena prior to the time of the collision," he said.

Jonny is survived by an older brother Michael (36), a journalist for the Press Association in Northern Ireland, who appealed for privacy.

East Antrim MLA Oliver McMullan, who lives locally, said the tragedy was a devastating blow for the young man's family and friends.

"This was a tragic accident," the Sinn Fein politician said.

"No one seems to know what exactly happened but I wouldn't say it was a particularly bad stretch of road."

He added: "The loss of life means heartache for the people who love him and who he has now sadly left behind."

Sinn Fein councillor Cara McShane, who represents The Glens area, said the road is extremely popular with motorcyclists, especially in good weather.

"It is an awful tragedy, whatever the circumstances, and people in the local area are in deep shock," she said. "My heart goes out to the young man's family at this terrible time."

SDLP East Antrim councillor, Margaret Anne McKillop, also expressed her sympathy to the McHugh family following the tragic accident on Saturday.

"I would like to offer my sincere condolences to his family and friends following this tragic news," she said.

Mr McHugh is Northern Ireland's first road fatality this month.

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