Double tragedy as crashes claim two men in their 20s
Accidents see our road death toll increase to 21 for the year
The families of two young men are in mourning after separate road accidents in the space of 24 hours claimed their lives.
Ashley James (20), a contractor for a farming-related company, was killed as he drove along Derryanvil Road, near Portadown, shortly before 10am on Thursday.
He was making his way back from an appointment and was late for work when his red Peugeot 207 collided head-on with a telescopic handler on the tight country route.
People who knew the former Greenmount Agricultural College student, from Clonmore Road in Dungannon, described him as an "amazing" person.
DUP councillor Jonny Buckley said the incident had shocked friends and family. "He was a very popular lad, well-known to the farming community," the councillor added.
"He came from a farming background and ate, slept and breathed farming.
"To hear this news is a real shock, and to have this young man taken away at so young an age has devastated everyone.
"His family, his work colleagues and the whole community are just absolutely shocked - we just can't believe it. Ashley was a jolly character who was very highly regarded, and he had a lot of friends in this tight-knit area."
Friends also paid their respects online. Neale Spence wrote: "Words can't describe how I feel right now, and I'm sure Ashley's family are in pieces.
"He would have done anything for anyone no matter what time of the day or night. I'm going to miss the crack, but all I have is happy memories with you and the boys. I pray that your family will stay strong because I know that you wouldn't want any of us being sad. May they stay strong knowing that you lived your life to the full.
"You truly were a gentleman and a true friend. Much love."
A second man, Daryl Shaw (28), died after an accident on the Newcastle Road in Castlewellan at 1.45am yesterday. It is understood no other vehicles were involved in the crash. Mr Shaw, from Burren Walk in the town, worked at Newcastle's Slieve Donard Hotel.
His parents Lucy and Michael are said to be devastated by the loss.
Staff at O'Hare's Bar and restaurant in Newcastle led the online tributes to the victim.
A spokesman wrote: "The thoughts and prayers of all the management and staff here at O'Hare's Lounge Bars and Hugh McCann's go out to the Shaw family at this very sad time. Daryl was a wee gent who was never short of a story and always able to make someone laugh."
Independent Newry, Mourne and Down District councillor for Castlewellan Patrick Clarke said the local community was in a state of shock.
"I am deeply saddened to learn of another fatality on our roads this year," he added
"It is all the more distressing when it is the death of a young person whose life has been cut short and who has been so tragically killed.
"At this most difficult time I would like to offer my heartfelt deepest sympathy and prayers to the Shaw family."
Sinn Fein councillor Sean Doran expressed his condolences to both the Shaw and James families.
He said: "I am so sorry to hear that another two lives have been tragically lost on our roads.
"It is simply two too many, and I extend my sympathies to both of the families during this sad time."
The double tragedy brings the total number of people killed on Northern Ireland's roads so far this year to 21.