Family of North West 200 racer Simon Andrews takes solace in flood of tributes
The parents of a road racing star who died after a crash at the North West 200 have been overwhelmed by thousands of tributes from across Northern Ireland. Simon Andrews from England died at the Royal Victoria Hospital on Monday, surrounded by his parents, partner and best friend.
A tribute by his father, posted on the website of the race organisers, has been viewed almost a million times and tens of thousands of messages of sympathy were posted online.
Floral tributes were also placed throughout yesterday at the spot where the crash took place on Saturday, close to Metropole Corner on the circuit.
A friend of the family said they had been taken aback by the level of support they have received from local people since the heartbreaking news of the 31-year-old's death.
On Monday afternoon, Mr Andrews' father Stuart said his hugely popular son adored the North West 200.
"If we tried to stop him racing, he would still have wanted to come here," he said. "He loved the people, he loved the atmosphere, he loved every single moment – he lived his life to the max and he just enjoyed life.
"You never expect that you are going to lose your son, but he just loved racing and you can't stop a grown man doing what he loves."
Meanwhile, a rider from Northern Ireland who was left clinging to life after a crash in the Czech Republic has been taken off life-support and is engaging with family members. Michael Pearson sustained serious spinal injuries and internal bleeding after the crash during the Horice race.
The veteran rider, a former Irish Superbike champion from Ballygowan, was airlifted to hospital where his mother, father and wife maintained a bedside vigil. Having been critical, his condition yesterday stabilised and he was taken off a life-saving ventilator.
He is said to have been talking and responding well.
French rider Franck Petricola, who suffered numerous fractures in a crash during North West practice last Tuesday, is now expected to make a full recovery having clung to life immediately after the horror smash.
Safety bales along the route were said to have saved his life.
Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin said she was "deeply saddened" by Mr Andrews' death, and pledged her department was fully behind all efforts to enhance the sport's safety.
"There are inherent dangers with the sport and we must leave no stone unturned to ensure that it is kept as safe as possible," she said.
Motorcyclist Simon Andrews died as a result of the injuries he sustained at Saturday's North West 200 races. The rider was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast by helicopter after the accident in the Superstock race. He died on Monday.