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Wife of councillor John Hanna came across tractor crash that killed her husband

By David Young

Published 23/06/2015

John Hanna died yesterday when his tractor overturned
John Hanna died yesterday when his tractor overturned
John Hanna died yesterday when his tractor overturned
John Hanna's wife Joan Baird

The wife of an Ulster Unionist councillor came across the tragic accident that killed her husband, it was learned yesterday.

John Hanna was killed after his vintage tractor overturned at Ballinlea Road, Ballintoy, Co Antrim.

Rapid response paramedics and an ambulance crew raced to the scene but were unable to save his life. Pictures show the tractor overturned yesterday afternoon on a roadside less than 100 yards from Mr Hanna's Ballinlea Road farm. No other vehicles were involved.

Mr Hanna served as a councillor in Banbridge for more than 22 years.

His wife, Causeway Coast and Glens Councillor Joan Baird, learned of the tragedy as she returned from another funeral.

Former UUP councillor Willie Graham, who lives nearby, was forced to break the news to her after went to the scene as soon as he heard about the accident.

"The tractor had overturned after coming out of the lane - it had just gone 50 to 100 yards, and must have hit the verge and turned over," he said.

"My heart goes out to his wife, Joan. She was away at a funeral, and when she came back the police weren't letting anyone down the road.

"She wound down the car window and said to me, 'Willie, what's up?'

"I had to tell her the news.

"And then she had to go home and tell her 97-year-old mother that John had been killed. It's just terrible."

Ulster Unionist Party leader Nike Nesbitt said he had been left deeply shocked and saddened by the news.

"My heartfelt condolences go out to John's family, especially his wife Joan, his friends and all the many colleagues he worked with over the years," he said.

"John Hanna was an exemplary public servant who always sought to put the needs of his constituents ahead of his own.

"He made an immense contribution during his 22 years' service as an elected member on Banbridge District Council, during which he achieved much for local people.

"John remained grounded in his community for whom he secured many significant funding opportunities to improve facilities and resources right across the area.

"I have no doubt that he will be fondly remembered for this for many years to come."

DUP North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey said Mr Hanna would be remembered as a larger-than-life character with a jovial personality.

"The death of John Hanna came as a huge shock to me personally and also to the all in the locality," he said.

"As an elected representative he was well known for his dedication to others and was respected across the political divide.

"I can assure his wife Joan and their family circle of my prayerful support as they deal with this tragedy."

Causeway Coast and Glens Independent councillor Padraig McShane expressed his condolences, also describing Mr Hanna as a "larger-than-life character".

"I recently met John at the Ballintoy vintage tractor rally where he sailed through the village saluting all the onlookers with an endearing and jovial style that was unique to himself," he said.

"On behalf of my friends and colleagues I would extend our deepest and most heartfelt sympathies to Councillor Baird and the Hanna family at this deeply traumatic time."

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