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Sister's moving tribute to hero crash victim Ryan McCaul, who had beaten cancer and meningitis

By Donna Deeney

The heartbroken sister of a man killed in a car crash has paid an emotional tribute to her "hero".

Ryan McCaul died in the accident in Co Londonderry on Monday. The 31-year-old had survived cancer three times, meningitis, and a previous serious road collision.

Ryan's funeral will take place tomorrow at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Gortnaghey, near Dungiven.

His sister Ciara said the family was devastated.

"Ryan was my big brother, my hero who taught me everything in life," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I don't know how we will cope without him, it is impossible to think about, and it will get worse after Friday.

"My poor parents are in bits, we all are."

A fundraising page set up in Ryan's memory has already raised thousands.

Ciara said it was an indication of how well-loved he was.

Mr McCaul died after the smash involving a van and a car at around 6.30am on Monday on the Foreglen Road, between Claudy and Dungiven.

Emergency services were called to the scene but he died a short time later in Altnagelvin Hospital.

It was the second fatal collision on the stretch of road between Derry and Belfast in the past month.

Within 24 hours of Ciara setting up the page in aid of Action Cancer, tributes had come flooding in.

"For now we are getting so much comfort listening to all the stories people have about him, I only thought he was a rascal," she added.

"He came through so much, he had survived cancer three times and had been in a serious road crash where he lost his hearing.

"He also developed meningitis, but came through that too.

"He often said: 'I am on this Earth for a reason'. But I think he was here to brighten the lives of everyone who knew him.

"One of the most important things he taught me was not to worry about unimportant, small stuff.

"He had such a tough time of it, had been through so much and yet nothing fazed him - he was so inspirational.

"If I ever have children of my own, I would hope they would be even a fraction of the person he was.

"Ryan was such a caring, generous guy and he dedicated so much of his time to raising funds for Action Cancer that I just thought this was the most appropriate thing to do in his memory."

Ryan ran two marathons - one in New York and one in Chicago - and was planning to train to take on the Ultra 5, a gruelling challenge of marathon runs across the five continents.

Ciara added: "Ryan ran countless half-marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks all to raise money for Action Cancer.

"But after Christmas he and my father were going to start training for the Five Continents.

"Ryan dedicated so much of his time to helping the charities that helped him so much when he was sick that we hope by setting up this JustGiving page we can carry on with something that was so important to him.

"I have been overwhelmed by the donations that have come in already and by the amount raised.

"It is clear how many people loved Ryan and recognised how incredible a man he was."

Requiem Mass for Ryan will take place tomorrow at 11am with interment in the adjoining cemetery.

The family have asked for family flowers only at the funeral, but donations in lieu can be made to Action Cancer at: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/RyanMcCaul

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