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Aunt pays tribute to a 'handsome and loving' nephew

By Clare Weir

The heartbroken aunt and godmother of Londonderry plane crash victim Aaron Toland has spoken of her "handsome, kind, happy and loving" nephew.

Sinn Fein Deputy Mayor of Derry, Patricia Logue, spoke as it emerged that the 22-year-old's body would be flown home from Thailand to Dublin on Friday before being brought to Derry.

She told of the agonising wait the family endured as they realised he had changed his travel plans and boarded the stricken jet to Phuket.

His best friend Chris Cooley, also 22, was sitting beside him on the aircraft but managed to escape. He is being comforted by relatives as he recuperates in hospital.

"Initially, Aaron's mother, Anne-Marie, phoned at the weekend to tell me that there had been a crash and she couldn't reach him on his mobile," she said.

"I got on the internet to find emergency numbers and it eventually emerged that Aaron and Chris had been on the flight.

"It was an awful wait to see if he was on the plane, then finding out, then waiting to hear if he had survived, and then finding out that he hadn't. "

She said he had saved up money earned working in Dunnes Stores to pay for the dream trip to Australia via Thailand.

"He was one of twins and he was a very handsome, well-liked young man.

"Aaron was very sociable and he will be deeply missed by all his family and friends," she added.

Councillor Logue also thanked the Thai authorities for their speedy organisation of the repatriation of Aaron's remains.

"At the moment, the main thing for the family is to bring Aaron back to his mum and to have a funeral," she said.

Belfast Telegraph


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