Mum tells of Ryan's final farewell to tragic Charly: He held her hand ... it would break your heart
The boyfriend of a teenage girl who died days after a traffic collision has said an emotional bedside goodbye to his best friend.
Charly-Jean Thompson (15) from Cookstown died on Sunday evening in the Royal Victoria Hospital.
Just hours before her boyfriend Ryan McCracken (17) had sent her a moving message telling her how much he loved her and urging her to keep fighting.
But soon after Ryan was brought to her hospital bed to say a final farewell following the death of the girl he had been seeing for a year.
Yesterday Ryan, who was also injured in the collision in Cookstown, underwent surgery for a shattered pelvis.
His mother Marian McCracken described the harrowing moment when he said goodbye to Charly.
"It was arranged that he would go down and say his last goodbyes to her in intensive care after she died.
"It was heartbreaking to watch him lying in the bed, holding her poor wee hand," she said. Marian says her house will never be the same again without Charly, who she described as the daughter she never had.
"They were so loving towards one another. I had three sons, not only was she Ryan's girlfriend she was like a daughter to me, she was more than just his girlfriend."
Ms McCracken told of the difficult decision of whether to tell Ryan that Charly had passed away, as she feared it would stop him from going for his serious surgery.
She said: "He knew something wasn't right, he kept asking me to tell him the truth. I finally got the strength to tell him that she might not make it, but the intensive care nurses came up and broke the news to him.
"He bawled and he cried and he held her photograph close to him. It was devastating for him."
Marian says her family are overcome with sadness.
"Charly was such a bubbly person, full of life. I'm sitting here looking at the photograph of him and her together. It's so sad that she has passed away, I didn't think it would come to this."
Ryan has kept a photograph of Charly close to him since the accident occurred and he took it in to theatre with him yesterday.
He hopes to make enough of a recovery to be at her funeral tomorrow. His mum fought back tears as she said: "I brought down the photograph in two wee frames and gave one to Charly's mum and dad and one to Ryan.
"He told me Charly is looking over him today."
Ryan's grandmother Mary McCracken told the Belfast Telegraph: "I was speaking to Ryan on the phone yesterday evening, but I didn't know if he knew at that point that Charly was dead, so I didn't want to mention it to him.
"He just said to me, "Nanny, I've got to be strong."
On the Saturday night before Charly died, Ryan sent her an emotional text message.
It read: "Stay strong babe, I love you loads and loads. We can both pull through this, the quicker you get better the less I will miss you.
"I miss you tons lying on this hospital bed without you but I know you can hear me say it over and over. Kissing and praying to this picture of me and you at night, it's so hard. But I know it won't be long to we are both cuddled up tight together on my bed again, night night I love you more than anything can describe. Sweet dreams and I will talk to you soon."
Ryan also sent a poignant Facebook message after Charly died in which he described her as his best friend.
The fatal accident occurred last Wednesday evening on the Drum Road between Cookstown and Omagh at around 9.45pm.
It is understood that Ryan was in the passenger seat of the vehicle during the collision, Charly was in the back seat and their friend Lee Heggarty (20) was driving the car – he was discharged from hospital on Friday with a fractured wrist.
Councillor Samuel Glasgow who lives 50 yards from where the accident happened said that it is understood the car hit a passing pick-up truck, which tipped over. Their own car then flipped before hitting a telegraph pole.
Marian concluded: "I don't know how Ryan will ever get over it, she was part of the furniture."