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Lorry becomes a hearse in poignant final journey for teen Ballycastle crash victim

By Nevin Farrell

Published 10/04/2015

Coffin is carried on one of the family firm’s lorries
Coffin is carried on one of the family firm’s lorries
Johnny Black’s father Seamus and other mourners enter the church behind the coffin of his son yesterday
Johnny Black

A lorry from the family firm of a teenage road crash victim was poignantly turned into a makeshift hearse to carry him on his last journey to church.

The coffin of 19-year-old Johnny Black was placed on a specially built base on the back of the tractor unit of a lorry as his funeral was held yesterday.

Its driver blessed himself as he passed the spot marked by flowers where an accident occurred on Easter Monday in which Mr Black and another man died and several others were badly injured.

A convoy of lorry tractor units journeyed along Ballycastle's Cushendall Road in tribute to Mr Black, who was one of the youngest HGV drivers in Northern Ireland.

The teenager loved driving lorries for his family firm, Seamus Black Haulage, and mourners said it was a fitting send-off that his remains were taken by truck to St Patrick's Church at Ballyvoy near Ballycastle.

Placed just behind the lorry cab, the coffin was surrounded with wreaths which said the words 'son', 'brother' and 'Johnny'.

Following behind, lorry drivers were dressed in sombre black suits while behind the wheel of their cabs. And when the cortege travelled the short distance from the Black home in the scenic Glenshesk valley, fields had to be opened up as makeshift car parks for the large crowds.

Mr Black is survived by his parents Seamus and Maureen, as well as his sister Nuala and girlfriend Christine. They were surrounded by mourners including SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell.

Parish Priest, the Rev Raymond Fulton extended the sympathy of the congregation to the family of Robin Wilson (26) who also died in Monday's crash.

He said in a "beautiful gesture" on Tuesday, as Mr Black's remains were being brought home, the Wilson family was present to pay their respects.

"To all who were involved in this horrendous incident, to the victims I wish them a speedy recovery and to their families our thoughts and prayers, and I think we should mention Clodagh (Arbuckle), she is the one who is sickest of all, she has the greatest injuries," he said. "I think we should all at this particular time say thank you to all who visited the Black home and said people had travelled as far as from Co Fermanagh."

The priest said there is much in this life which will never be understood. "This particular time is not for recrimination and questioning because our hearts our broken and we are deeply saddened at the death of Johnny, one who lived his life in fun, love and laughter and as Nuala said he never did stress.

"He left a deep impression, a lasting impression, on those that met him, The family were immensely proud of him as a son and a brother and he was also good at the old trucking as well."

Mr Black was interred in the church graveyard. The funeral of the second man killed in the crash, Robin Wilson, will take place today. It will be conducted by the family minister, the Rev Peter Turton, at noon from his mother's home in Bushmills, before burial at Armoy Presbyterian Churchyard.

He is survived by his parents Andrew and Patricia, along with his three brothers Graham, Marc and Matthew.

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