Friends of hit-and run boy Reece Meenan hold birthday vigil celebration of his life
Reece Meenan should have been celebrating his 14th birthday last night - but instead hundreds of his friends gathered for a vigil in memory of the schoolboy killed in a hit-and-run.
Reece died in hospital last Saturday after he was struck by a car on the Newbridge Road in Coleraine.
Last night's vigil took place in Christie Park, close to the spot where the youngster was knocked down.
Friends of the Loreto College pupil - including young players from Bertie Peacock Youths Football Club - described the event as "light-hearted" and a celebration of his life.
Around 100 balloons and two large lanterns were released before a minute's silence was held in memory of the popular teenager.
Carson Keys (14), who had been friends with Reece for several years, came up with the idea to hold a vigil to mark his birthday.
He told the Belfast Telegraph: "I helped organise the vigil after I saw the idea online where a group of people did something similar in England for a girl that died in a car crash and I thought, 'Why can't we do something like that?'.
"A friend of mine helped me organise it and contacted a few people to get it all started.
"I started organising it about a week ago.
"I knew it was his birthday so I wanted to do something special for it.
"It went really well, we let off the balloons and two big lanterns and held a minute's silence.
"We didn't want it to be sad, it was a celebration of his life.
"Lots of his friends were there and they wanted to come out and do something for him. I ran about with him for years."
Many of his friends wrote happy birthday messages on the balloons before releasing them into the air.
Reece was struck by the car but later died in hospital from his injuries. The secondary school pupil was a keen sportsman, and was involved in GAA, golf and football.
Hundreds of people attended his funeral at the Star of the Sea Church in Portstewart to say their final farewells last week.
Speaking during the Requiem Mass, his sister Caitlin Maria said: "We will get through this together, at this tough time. I love you Reece and will never forget you.
"You were my partner in crime."
A 23-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving causing death, and a number of other offences in connection with the collision.
Police said he has since been released on bail pending further enquiries.