Mothers’ tributes to teens killed in gas tragedy
He was charismatic, caring and everything a parent could have hoped for in a young man. His zest for life was insatiable, his smile infectious, and most of all, he was loveable.
Neil McFerran was, in his mother’s eyes, just perfect.
And that is how Catherine McFerran and her husband John will remember their youngest child who was so cruelly snatched from their lives earlier this week.
Tomorrow, the Newtownabbey parents have the heartbreaking task of burying their boy — a task shared by Katrina and George Davidson, whose son Aaron died alongside his childhood pal.
The 18-year-olds, who grew up just streets apart, are believed to have died from a carbon monoxide leak in a holiday apartment belonging to Aaron's aunt at Tunnel Brae, Castlerock, on Tuesday.
Another friend, Matthew Gaw, also 18 and from the same area in Co Antrim, remains in a stable condition at the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine. It is understood a gas heater may be to blame.
“He was just perfect,” an emotional Catherine told the Belfast Telegraph as she stood, wrapped in the arms of her second eldest son Stephen, in the driveway of their Kings Walk home. “He was just a great boy, a great son who was always happy and always telling you what he was up to.
“He was great with Lara, Zac and Karis (his nephew and nieces). The kids just loved him and he loved them.
“He had so many friends. He worked with other kids at the local youth club, had a part-time job and got along with just about anybody.”
Neil and Aaron were both prefects at Glengormley High School and had gone to Castlerock to relax ahead of their results.
Aaron, who attained some of the school's best ever marks in his GCSE exams two years ago, was planning to go to university to study engineering.
“Aaron was so loveable,” his heartbroken mother Trina Davidson told UTV. “He would have done anything for anyone. They were all lovely boys.”
She added: “He was good to his family. He loved his sister. He had a wee nephew just a year old and he adored him, totally adored him. I just can't believe he's gone and he's not coming back through that door.”
Neil’s brother Stephen also cannot believe he will never see his “best mate” again.
The pair shared a bedroom for 18 years while their sister Jillian (21) had her own room.
Older brother Jonathan (32) lives with his wife and three children.
And while they had their share of brotherly spats, Neil was, according to Stephen, just like a best friend.
“He really was like a best mate,” he explained. “Even though there was a couple of years between us we had a really good relationship. People always said he looked up to me but now... now I look up to him.’
And he spoke fondly of his baby brother’s plans.
“He was the type of character who had big dreams. Him and the boys said they were going to New York in a couple of weeks but Neil had said that he was hoping to go to California to get his big break. He wanted to be in America, he wanted to get on some sort of talent show. He had his whole life ahead of him.”
Choking back tears, Stephen added: “People always said what a great person Neil was... I could only hope to be half the person he was.”
A funeral service for Neil will be held at Newtownabbey Methodist Mission, Rathcoole Drive, tomorrow at 10am followed by burial at Carmoney Cemetery.
Investigators to carry out more tests at flat
Investigators are expected to return to Castlerock today to further examine the scene where the two teenagers tragically lost their lives from a suspected gas leak earlier this week.
Police and a team from the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) are set to carry out more tests to determine how the fumes escaped.
The officers have been at the Tunnel Brae holiday apartment since Wednesday.
A spokeswoman from the HSENI said initial investigations pointed to a gas appliance in the luxury flat.
“The gas safety team from the HSENI along with the PSNI are continuing investigations at the scene and have identified an LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) fuelled appliance which may have acted as a source of carbon monoxide,” she said.
“The priority at this stage is to find out exactly what happened. As the incident is subject to investigation, HSENI is unable to make any further comment on the tragedy at this time.
“Our thoughts at this time are with the families of the two young men who died and the third young man who is in hospital.”
School friends Aaron Davidson and Neil McFerran, both 18, died after a suspected gas leak in the apartment on Tuesday.
The teenagers, from Newtownabbey, were on holiday with their friend, Matthew Gaw (18), also from the same area, who remains in hospital in a stable condition.
The parents of the teenagers alerted emergency services to the tragedy.
The trio were meant to return home on Tuesday but failed to turn up at the train station.