Northern Ireland teacher Barney Dobbin killed in Ecuador during climb
Tributes have been paid to a young man from Northern Ireland who died in a climbing accident in South America.
Barney Dobbin (25) was killed after reaching the summit of Mount Chimborazo, the continent's highest mountain.
Mr Dobbin, who came from Artlone, a small townland between Randalstown and Toome, was a teacher at the British School in Quito, Ecuador.
The family have been devastated by the news, local councillor and family friend Henry Cushinan said last night.
"He had been training for the climb which took his life for the past year with a team of climbers, having started mountain climbing a few years ago prior to traveling abroad," he said.
"The mountain they were to climb - Chimborazo - is technically the highest on earth as it lies on the equator and so reaches farther from the centre of the planet.
"Although she is distraught, in her sadness Barney's mother is immensely proud of her son, as he succeeded in reaching the summit.
"It's a testament to his determination and spirit."
Barney's uncle, John Dobbin, offered a moving tribute to the young teacher.
"Barney touched the lives of so many across the globe, and the world has lost a mighty fine son," he said.
"He explored, discovered, feared not, respected, applauded, loved and cherished all that our mighty planet and inhabitants had to offer.
"On his last day on earth he was as close to the stars as was humanly possible. This was his ultimate and brilliant final achievement.
"He is now the largest star of all, shining brilliantly and beautiful within our hearts.
"He was a true son of Ireland who proudly carried his flag to far-off lands respectfully and was moulded from the love of his parents.
"The world is a much smaller and poorer place without Barney."
The British School in Quito added its voice to the tributes.
"It is with great sadness that we share the news of the death of our much loved colleague Ciaran Barney Riley-Dobbin.
"Barney was a wonderful teacher and friend and will be greatly missed by everyone in the BSQ family and beyond," the school posted on its Facebook page.
The Dobbin family are working closely with the Kevin Bell Trust to arrange the repatriation of Mr Dobbin's body from Ecuador.
Mr Cushinan added: "My heart is with the family at this very difficult time.
"The Dobbin family wish to pay tribute to this wonderful group who have been an invaluable help to them at this most distressing time.
"Due to their efforts and expertise, it is hoped that the family will have Barney returned to them early next week."
It's the second tragedy to hit the Dobbin family in recent years.
In 2016, Barney's aunt, mother-of-five Lorraine Clyde (56) from Antrim, and work colleague Michelle McStravick were killed in a car crash just a mile from the family's home.
Both women were care assistants in Coleraine and were travelling to work when the accident occurred.