Belfast Telegraph

Priest tells of anguish giving last rites to dying crash victim Ryan McCaul

By Donna Deeney

The priest who administered to crash victim Ryan McCaul told yesterday how he was broken-hearted to see him lose his battle for life.

The 31-year-old died in the accident in Co Londonderry on Monday.

Ryan had survived cancer three times, meningitis and a previous serious road collision.

His funeral took place yesterday at the Immaculate Conception Church in Gortnaghy, near Dungiven.

Parish priest Fr Seamus Kelly reminded the large congregation that this was the second fatality on the same stretch of road in just over a week.

He also attended the funeral of Loreto Douglas (64), who lost her life in a smah close to where he gave the last rites to Mr McCaul.

Fr Kelly recalled how he got word of Ryan's accident.

"I was on that road myself last week and had just arrived home when I got a call from the police at the family's request to come to the scene," he said.

"As I journeyed, I prayed the little Aramaic anthem 'Maranatha', which means 'Come, Lord Jesus'.

"As I administered the last rites, I had no doubt that indeed Jesus came then to our brother Ryan.

"It was heartbreaking to look at a young man leaving this world at the mouth of Christmas."

Since his death, many tributes have been paid to Mr McCaul's bravery and unstinting fundraising efforts for Action Cancer, prompted by his own experience of the disease.

Fr Kelly reminded the congregation of how many times Mr McCaul had faced death in his 31 years, but still remained a hugely positive presence.

He added: "I was talking to the family these last few days and they told me that Ryan was always the life and the soul of the party, I heard that many times, and yet he was only 18 months old when he was diagnosed with cancer.

"Until he was about six years of age he was in and out of hospital being treated for new tumours.

"Ryan was unfortunate to have been involved in a number of close shaves, both on his dad's motorbike and in cars, and even while walking in London. However, his worst accident was in 2004 when he ended up in a coma in hospital.

"After much prayer and care he made a miraculous recovery, and went on to do major fundraising for Action Cancer."

The bond that Ryan had with his parents Edwina and Kieran, sister Ciara and brother Rory was recognised by Fr Kelly.

He recalled how Ryan made a surprise visit to his parents on the other side of the world last Christmas.

"When Edwina and Kieran went to New Zealand last year he missed them so much that he made a surprise visit at Christmas just to be with them. He was always thinking of others," he said.

"There is great sadness in our hearts today as we say our final farewell to Ryan. We must hand him over to God, and this is not easy."

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