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Family's final farewell to air crash victim

Funeral takes place today of Derry man killed in Thailand tragedy

By Brendain McDaid

Hundreds of mourners today gathered for the funeral of the Londonderry man killed in the tragic Thai air disaster.

The parents of Aaron Toland this morning led the sad procession from the family home at Drumard Park in Hazelbank for mass at St Columba's Church, Long Tower.

The 22-year-old Derry man was one of 89 people who died when the One-Two-Go flight crashed while landing in heavy rain at the Thai resort of Phuket eight days ago.

Today's funeral service was being conducted by Fr Kieran Page, a relative of the family.

Mr Toland's father, Myles, accompanied his son's remains from south east Asia to Dublin Airport on Friday and a hearse carrying the coffin was given a Garda escort towards the border.

A University of Ulster graduate, Mr Toland had been on a backpacking trip to Thailand with his friend Chris Cooley, who survived the crash.

They had also intended to go to Australia.

Over the weekend, electrician Chris was moved out of intensive care at a Thai hospital as he continues to make good progress.

Mr Toland and Mr Cooley had spent a few days in the Thai capital of Bangkok before boarding the flight to Phuket.

They were on the trip of a lifetime and planned to work in Australia for a year.

Aaron's aunt and godmother, Patricia Logue, issued a statement on behalf of Aaron's family ahead of the funeral today.

The statement read: "We, the parents and brothers of Aaron Toland, would like to express heartfelt gratitude to our family and friends who have given us great comfort and support as we mourn the loss of our beloved son and brother Aaron.

" Nothing could prepare us to lose Aaron in this terrible tragic manner so far away from us, his family.

"We are heartened that he is back home with us.

"Our only desire now is to mourn our son and brother."

Mrs Logue, who is deputy mayor of Derry, also appealed for the family to be allowed to grieve in peace.

The statement added: "We appreciate that the circumstances of Aaron's death and those of 88 other people in Thailand made it world news.

" However, we are a family in mourning and would ask that the media would respect our privacy."

There were 130 passengers and crew on board the doomed flight, with two other survivors with Irish passports among the 41 survivors.

John O'Donnell from Co Clare, and his friend, William Burke, from Co Tipperary are still recovering in hospital from extensive burns.

Their families also travelled to the popular holiday destination on the western Thai coast this week.

Aaron is survived by his parents Myles and Ann Marie and his brothers, including his identical twin brother, Emmett.

Belfast Telegraph


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