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Sister's poignant tribute to tragic rally driver Ryan Bradley as she arrives for wedding in one of his favourite cars

By Cate McCurry

Published 26/04/2016

Ryan Bradley’s MK2 Ford Escort brought his sister Bronagh to her wedding
Ryan Bradley’s MK2 Ford Escort brought his sister Bronagh to her wedding
Bronagh Bradley
Ryan died in a crash during the Down Rally in 2014

The sister of a driver who died in a horror crash at the Down Rally has paid a heartfelt tribute to him after she arrived for her wedding in one of his favourite cars.

Ryan Bradley was killed when his Ford Escort car struck a wall and plunged into a reservoir near Castlewellan in 2014.

On Saturday his sister Bronagh was chauffeured to her big day in a white MK2 Ford Escort.

The car, driven by their father Joe, was pictured outside Drumagarner Church, Kilrea, with white ribbon tied over the bonnet.

The photograph of the wedding escort was posted to the 'RIP Ryan Bradley' Facebook page that afternoon and received more than 1,300 'likes'.

One comment on the photograph said: "Beautiful picture it captures a very poignant moment always remembered never forgotten."

Ryan (28) died after his car left the road during the first stage of the race in October 2014.

His co-driver Gerard Mullan escaped with minor injuries, but was deeply traumatised.

The vehicle struck a wall and entered the water at Lough Island Reavy in Kilcoo.

It took several hours for divers from the PSNI and Fire and Rescue Service to recover Ryan's body.

A popular and experienced competitor, Ryan and his brother Kevin travelled across Ireland competing in rallies.

Kevin, recently crowned class champion in the Irish National and Border championships, was also taking part in the Down Rally and had completed the Lough Island stage ahead of his brother.

On the first anniversary of his death, Kevin posted: "Just can't believe Ryan you're gone a year. It certainly doesn't leave me or get any easier.

"Miss the big hearty laughs we had together and someone to ask advice. Massive loss to our family."

Described as a talented driver, Ryan was building a growing reputation at national level.

An inquest into his death heard how his co-driver Mr Mullan was able to escape through an open window and swam to a nearby bank.

"I called for Ryan but he wasn't behind me," he recalled, explaining he removed his helmet and threw it up a nearby bank onto the road to alert other rally drivers taking part in the stage.

Mr Mullan said he and Ryan were unaware of the reservoir on the rally route, despite his friend undertaking a circuit of it the day before the tragedy.

The co-driver also raised concerns about the lack of a drivers' briefing before the start of the race, and said he had "never navigated a rally without one".

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