Reece Meenan's sister pays moving tribute as hit-and-run child buried
The heartbroken sister of a 13-year-old boy killed in a hit-and-run incident told mourners at his funeral that her brother would be in her heart for eternity.
Reece Meenan was pronounced dead at hospital on Saturday due to injuries sustained after being struck by a car at around 6.30pm on Newbridge Road in Coleraine.
Hundreds of people attended his funeral at the Star of the Sea Church in Portstewart to say their final farewells yesterday morning.
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."
His coffin was carried into the church flanked by pupils from Loreto College, where Reece - who would have celebrated his 14th birthday next week - was a popular pupil.
The school choir sang the entrance hymn, and in a statement the college described him as "extremely likeable".
During his homily, parish priest Father Austin McGirr told the congregation in the packed church that Reece had made a "huge impression in his short life".
And he told the teen's devastated mother Veronica, father Paul, stepfather John, sisters Caitlin Maria and Laura, and brother Graham that "our hearts go out to you".
"This tragic and sudden death has left the family shocked and stunned. There was no preparation for this, no period of getting used to the idea of an early departure," he said.
"All we can do as a community is hold you in love and in prayer. We do that now and will continue to do that."
The priest paid tribute to the young sportsman, who was involved in GAA, golf and football, and had recently moved to Coleraine from Portstewart with his family, adding that his absence will be felt intensely.
"Reece made a huge impression in his short life," said Fr McGirr.
"Seasoned golfers in Castlerock were reminded of a young Rory McIlroy when they saw him swing, while knowledgeable football watchers saw a budding Steven Gerrard as wee Reece weaved his way through the opposition to win the Doherty Cup for St Colum's Primary, Portstewart.
"So many hopes and dreams were cruelly ended by a Saturday night road accident.
"So much talent and skill in such a young person. Sports club members and coaches will feel his absence."
Sobbing pupils and staff were supported by students and teachers from other local secondary schools.
Reece's former school, St Colum's, closed for the day as a mark of respect.
The young victim's family thanked the emergency services and paid tribute to "a special little boy" who had touched so many hearts.
His best friends spoke of their everlasting love for Reece, adding that they were still "the three musketeers."
And, as a sea of mourners filed out, there was a stunned silence as Reece was taken to his final resting place at Portstewart's Agherton Cemetery.
Meanwhile, a devastated passer-by who cradled Reece in his arms for 30 minutes following the hit-and-run told the Belfast Telegraph that he would never forget the youngster's face.
Maurice Dickey (63) said: "There was nothing I could do apart from hold him and talk to him, but Reece didn't say anything to me at all.
"He wasn't in pain and he wasn't suffering.
"I hope that's something his family may be able to eventually take some comfort from."
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. He has since been released on bail pending further enquiries.