Belfast Telegraph

Armagh crash: Southern Regional College shocked by 'devastating' deaths of students (17) in Northern Ireland

By Claire Cromie

Two teenage engineering students aged 17 have been killed in a car crash in Co Armagh.

The tragic accident happened on the Cladymilltown Road, between Markethill and Newtownhamilton, on Thursday morning, where dense fog has made visibility extremely poor.

The 17-year-olds, named locally as Mark Hutcheson from Markethill and Andrew Gass from Tullyallen near Markethill, were the driver and front-seat passenger in a Vauxhall Astra.

A third boy is injured in hospital.

The students went to Southern Regional College together, studying engineering at the Armagh campus.

They were driving to the Portadown campus today for a competition when their car left the road and hit a tree.

College Chief Executive Brian Doran said staff and students were deeply shocked and saddened at the tragic deaths of "two young students who were great characters and shared a close bond" throughout school and college.

Describing the news as "devastating", he said his deepest sympathies and condolences are with the families and with the third student, "who survived the accident".

DUP MLA William Irwin told the Belfast Telegraph after visiting the scene: "Two of the lads lost their lives and one is injured.

"His condition is not known but he was able to get out of the car himself despite the extent of the damage, so hopefully the news may not be too serious for him.

"It's an absolute tragedy and a horrific loss for the families of both young men."

He described the families as "well-known" in the area.

The road was closed for much of the day.

Mr Irwin said: "Speaking to police, it seems that no other vehicle was involved and the car has left the road and hit a tree.

"With what has been described as the miraculous escape of the drivers involved in the lorry crash in Markethill last week, here only some days later,  we are dealing with two fatalities and that is so hard to take in.

"Having lost a child of my own in an swimming accident some years back, I know just how painful and totally devastating this will be for the families involved and words really cannot describe the anguish this awful ordeal brings.

"My sincerest thoughts and prayers are with the families of the two young men and I would of course urge every driver to be aware, alert and take extra care on our roads."

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