Belfast Telegraph

Family clings together in grief as they bury crash teen Andrew Gass

‘Mark Hutcheson and Andrew Gass were the pride and joy of the community’

By Lesley Houston and Nevin Farrell

Two young friends who "shared a great bond", studied together and worshipped at the same church have now been laid to rest at the same cemetery.

Mark Hutcheson and Andrew Gass, both 17 and students at Southern Regional College in Armagh, were buried on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

They died last Thursday when the car they were travelling in crashed on their regular morning journey to the college.

Andrew's black Vauxhall Astra left the Cladymilltown Road between Markethill and Newtownhamilton on Thursday morning.

Another friend in the car survived the crash.

Dense fog and heavy rain had made visibility extremely poor and conditions treacherous. They were going to a skills competition when the car left the road and hit a tree.

The first of the weekend's funerals was that of Mark, at Tullyallen Presbyterian Church in the village of Mountnorris, near Markethill.

Mark and Andrew, who both studied welding and fabrication, had lived nearby on the outskirts of the village. Both had a big interest in farming.

Andrew was buried after a service at the same church yesterday, where the two friends worshipped during their young lives.

The loss of the two young men has engulfed the rural community in "total devastation", according to the Reverend Nigel Reid.

"They were two very fine young men. They were very close friends.

"They were two young men who lived in a rural setting and loved the rural way of life; they were involved in the local young farmers' club, and they loved farming," he said.

Yesterday Rev Reid, who officiated at both services, was emotionally overwrought by the burden of laying to rest a pair of young men just starting their adult lives.

Councillor Jim Speers attended both funerals and said the scenes were heartbreaking.

"It was a very sad day for everybody," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"It was heartbreaking. These two young lads were the pride and joy of the local community.

"There were a lot of young people present, and the road was full with people."

A friend of Andrew said: "He was always smiling and thought the world of his family and his car."

Belfast Telegraph

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