Belfast Telegraph

Dean's loss is a living nightmare for family

Editor's Viewpoint

For Karen and Rod McIlwaine, the agony of not knowing the whereabouts of their son Dean is over, but the nightmare continues.

Dean went missing in the Carnmoney Road area on July 13, but tragically his body was found during a search by volunteers in Cave Hill Country Park at the weekend.

This is the worst nightmare for every parent and for all those who were close to Dean, including his brother and his girlfriend.

In a searing interview in today's paper, Mrs McIlwaine says: "Thank God they found him, because if they hadn't, God knows how long he would have been lying there. At least we can have him home now.

"It would have been awful to have had to live without any news, waiting and wondering."

The details of this tragic loss are still unclear and many questions remain unanswered.

Why did Dean, a talented young man with everything to live for, go missing? Why was he found in the Cave Hill area when he was last seen on the Carnmoney Road, which is some distance away?

The picture may become clearer with time, but what is certain is that the next days, weeks and months will be very difficult for Dean's family and his girlfriend. His life was brimming with so many possibilities - starting a business, setting up home, a young man who was popular and loved by many.

Dean's death is an immense tragedy, but there is no small consolation from the tremendous response of everyone who rallied to help the McIlwaine family.

This includes the many people who turned out to search for him, the strangers who retweeted and shared the family's posts on social media, and also the help given by the police and rescue services.

Even in the midst of her grief and despair, Mrs McIlwaine had thoughts also about the family of RAF serviceman Corrie McKeague, who has been missing in England since last September.

Despite the tensions that are often so obvious in our midst, it is encouraging to know that in times of a crisis like that of the McIlwaine family, people from all sides of our communities here come together in an outpouring of concern and support.

That response will continue to give the McIlwaine family some consolation in the dark days to come, and in the knowledge that they did all they humanly could to find Dean.

They remain in our thoughts and prayers at this time.

Belfast Telegraph

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