Belfast Telegraph

Mother of Cookstown man who died in 2004 Thai tsunami goes missing

By Ivan Little

The mother of the only Northern Irish victim of the devastating tsunami that killed tens of thousands of people in south-east Asia 14 years ago has gone missing.

Police are concerned for the safety of Theresa Keightley, from the Cookstown area, who was devastated by the death of her son, Connor, in Thailand in 2004.

The PSNI said Mrs Keightley was last seen at around 4pm on Monday, close to the town's Glenavon Hotel.

The 72-year-old is described as 4ft 9in tall, of a medium build with short white hair, styled in a bob.

A PSNI statement said: "Theresa was last seen wearing a blue puffa jacket, dark jeans and a light coloured scarf.

"She was carrying a handbag and using a walking stick.

Officers urged anyone with information about the case to contact Magherafelt police on the 101 emergency number, quoting reference 762 4/12/18.

Mrs Keightley's daughter, Karina, who went to Thailand to help search for her brother's body, appealed to people to pray for her mother's safe return, writing on Facebook: "Please keep praying really hard."

Darina and her sister, Michelle, flew to Thailand just days after the tsunami to hunt for their brother.

He hadn't been in touch with his family since sending them a picture of himself beside a Christmas message written in the sand just before the tsunami struck.

The sisters, together with an uncle and a cousin, kept in constant contact with Connor's mother and his father, Dermot, back home in Tyrone as the hunt for his remains continued thousands of miles away.

The relatives searched hospitals and scanned dozens of pictures of injured people.

The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs later subsequently on a boat for the family to re-trace the last known movements of Connor, who was as a talented artist.

The day before the family was due to return home, his remains were found in a makeshift mortuary in Krabi, a town on the Phi Phi islands.

He was identified by his dental records, a tattoo and a distinctive watch that he had been wearing at the time of the disaster.

Connor's parents learned of their son's fate in a telephone call from Thailand. Mrs Keightley said at the time that despite going through such a harrowing experience, she had managed to find some peace.

"It was heartbreaking, but I was glad that he was found and that he would not be missing for the rest of our lives," the grieving mother explained.

Connor's body was returned for burial in Cookstown after a service at the town's Holy Trinity Church.

On the tenth anniversary of the deadly tsunami, Connor's relatives gathered for a memorial mass.

Mrs Keightley also lit a candle in the window of her home as a memorial to everyone who was affected by the tragedy.

Belfast Telegraph

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