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A special man: Tributes to TV presenter Brian Black after car plunge tragedy

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Broadcaster Brian Black in the Arctic

Broadcaster Brian Black in the Arctic

A vehicle is pulled from the waters of Strangford Lough yesterday

A vehicle is pulled from the waters of Strangford Lough yesterday

Emergency workers at scene

Emergency workers at scene

With pet dog Flub

With pet dog Flub

Former UTV colleague Paul Clark

Former UTV colleague Paul Clark

Former UTV colleague Ken Reid

Former UTV colleague Ken Reid

Broadcaster Brian Black in the Arctic

The Co Down village of Strangford was left reeling on Tuesday night following the tragic death of former UTV environmental journalist Brian Black.

Mr Black, who was aged in his 70s, died after his car plunged into the water at the harbour at around 11.30am.

He was rescued from his black Honda SUV by members of the public and the coastguard.

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A vehicle is pulled from the waters of Strangford Lough yesterday

A vehicle is pulled from the waters of Strangford Lough yesterday

A vehicle is pulled from the waters of Strangford Lough yesterday

Mr Black, a keen sailor, was brought ashore and treated at the scene before being taken by ambulance to the Royal Victoria Hospital where he later died.

Mr Black's death comes less than a year after the loss of his beloved wife, Lesley.

Having first worked for RTE, Mr Black began his UTV career in 1982, where he spent over 20 years reporting news and presenting the current affairs programme, Counterpoint. He also made several environmental programmes including Hidden Heritage and Bog on the Brink.

He won many awards in his role as environment correspondent and has been described by former colleagues as "a talented and driven journalist".

Former UTV managing director Michael Wilson, who commissioned a number of Mr Black's programmes, described him as "a superb journalist, programme maker and environmental champion" and said the whole UTV family - past and present - was mourning the loss of "a remarkable man".

Weatherman and U105 presenter Frank Mitchell said Northern Ireland had lost "one of the great environmental broadcasters", adding: "He was totally generous with his time to me when I arrived at UTV and he had great stories to tell. Such a sad day."

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Former UTV colleague Ken Reid

Former UTV colleague Ken Reid

Former UTV colleague Ken Reid

Political editor Ken Reid described Mr Black as "a special man, great communicator with a special passion for improving our environment" while former UTV presenter Kate Smith added: "I've known him a lifetime ... he was always a true professional and a wonderful colleague".

UTV presenter Paul Clark told this newspaper: "Brian was passionate about the environment and his mantra was always 'think globally but act locally'.

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Former UTV colleague Paul Clark

Former UTV colleague Paul Clark

Former UTV colleague Paul Clark

"He funded his own journeys to far off reaches of the planet by sea and as an accomplished camera operator he filmed everything himself and brought back some incredible material."

Former sports editor Adrian Logan said he would remember Mr Black for "always having a smile on his face and rarely being in bad form", adding: "He was a great character and very much his own man but also extremely dedicated and professional. He certainly came into his own when he went into the environment job which he absolutely adored. He was a gentleman and if you ever needed help or advice, he would gladly give it."

UTV's former business editor Jamie Delargy added: "He was very driven, focused and could do something which is an enormous talent as a journalist. He could sum up a situation very quickly in a few words so he was very much well-equipped for the job he had undertaken in life."

Photographer Kevin McAuley recalled working with Mr Black on many shoots down through the years as he covered nature and environmental stories and made documentaries in particular on the north coast at Fair Head, Rathlin Island, Boglands and at the famous Frosses Trees.

He said: "Brian was a very dedicated journalist, producer and presenter, he wouldn't stop until he got what he wanted from a story. He will be sadly missed. It is a sad day for broadcasting, journalism and more importantly for his family."

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) said a call was received at around 11.40am on Tuesday at Quay Road in Strangford.

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Emergency workers at scene

Emergency workers at scene

Emergency workers at scene

Three appliances were sent to the scene as well as the specialist rescue team. Portaferry RNLI's inshore lifeboat and Portaferry Coastguard were also sent to the scene.

Sinn Fein South Down MLA Emma Rogan said news of the tragedy had sent shockwaves throughout the community.

"It has left people reeling and my thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected at this time especially the family and friends of Brian Black.

"I would like to commend those who entered the water including the Portaferry RNLI and Portaferry Coastguard to help recover Brian from the water."

SDLP councillor Gareth Sharvin also paid tribute to Mr Black, saying: "I have known Brian for many years, and remember visiting him last September on my first venture out after being released from hospital, following his sad loss of his wife Lesley. He always had his family and the community at heart."

Mr Black is survived by his two children Kieron and Sarah, son-in-law Colin, daughter-in-law Yulia, granddaughter Penelope and wider family circle.

Belfast Telegraph