Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland man Philip Hagan (25) found dead in Philadelphia

By Victoria Leonard

The sudden death of a 25-year-old Co Armagh man in America has been described as a "devastating loss for his family and the entire local community".

Tynan man Philip Hagan, a former deputy head boy at The Royal School Dungannon, had been due to fly home to Northern Ireland this weekend to spend Christmas with his family.

However, he was tragically found dead by emergency services on Saturday evening, after they gained entry to his flat in Philadelphia's Marine Club Condominiums.

The alarm was raised by his work colleagues in the US after Philip failed to arrive for his job as an actuary at Cigna Health Care on Friday.

Philip, the youngest son of Aghavilly, Tynan and Middletown Rector Rev Matthew Hagan and his wife Jennifer, had lived in Philadelphia for the past two years.

A graduate of actuarial science at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Philip had excelled academically, landing the job at Cigna after impressing the firm during an 11-week internship as part of his degree course.

During the week before his death, he had reportedly worked from home for a couple of days as he had been feeling unwell.

Philip's father said the family was hoping their son's body would be brought home in the next seven to 10 days.

Headmaster at The Royal School Dungannon, Dr David Burnett, said that the entire school community had been left heartbroken when they received the shocking news of Philip's passing.

"The suddenness and unexpected nature of his death has come as a body blow. There have been quite a few tears shed in the last few days," Dr Burnett said.

"We have a young man in the prime of his life, whose whole life lay in front of him, and everything about him indicated that he would be successful.Philip was very successful academically, receiving 10 A*s in his GCSEs and two A*s and one A in his A-levels. But for all of his academic results and hard work, it is his great personal characteristics that I remember him for.

"He was always looking out for other people, he was mature and helpful, selfless, responsible and acted with integrity.

"He was an absolute star, the kind of pupil you remember for all the right reasons.

"All the teachers are heartbroken. Many of them would have taught Philip and there will certainly be a presence from the school at the funeral."

In addition to his academic achievements, Philip was a keen guitar player and was involved in his school's Scripture Union and charity work. He also played cricket and rugby.

"He was a fit, healthy young man and when I think of Philip, it's as someone who was full of life, full of fun and really positive," Dr Burnett said.

"Before he went to Heriot-Watt, Philip spent a gap year in Auckland on a Dilworth Scholarship, an exchange programme between pupils from our school and pupils from a New Zealand school. When the principal of Dilworth School heard what had happened, he rang to offer his condolences, which shows the high regard that Philip was held in.

"I have also written to his family to offer my deepest sympathies, and to remind them of the high regard that Philip is held in by our school."

Professor Anke Wiese, Heriot-Watt University's head of actuarial mathematics and statistics, added: "Philip was a star student at Heriot-Watt University and we're truly sorry to hear about his passing.

" He was a popular, hard-working young man who got on well with his peers and had a bright future ahead of him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends at this time."

Philip's elder brother Dr Jonathan Hagan told the Ulster Gazette that a post-mortem examination had taken place, but the cause of death had still not been determined.

"When we couldn't get in contact on Friday and Saturday, we were wondering why he hadn't been replying," he said.

"When his work colleagues contacted us to say he didn't show into work on Friday, that set alarm bells ringing. He was such an intelligent, friendly young man who had his whole life ahead of him. He was very close to the family and was due to come home for Christmas on December 16.

"The Foreign Office in London have been brilliant and have been offering their support.

"The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust have been hugely supportive and are actively involved in getting Philip home. The support of family, friends and the whole community has been brilliant and very comforting."

Colin Bell of the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust told this newspaper that it was "not yet known" when Philip's body could be brought back to Northern Ireland.

Philadelphia Police Department said it did "not have any releasable information at this time" regarding Philip's death.

Belfast Telegraph

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