Priest tells of Nishi Ward family's pain after death of businessman in quad biking tragedy
The family of a Co Tyrone businessman killed in a quad bike accident are "numb and in shock", a priest has said.
Nishi Ward died in the tragedy in Plumbridge on Thursday afternoon. It is believed the 45-year-old founder of Waste Systems Ltd may have had a heart attack or seizure at the wheel of his quad bike while on the family farm.
It is understood he crashed and was pinned down by the vehicle.
The air ambulance was called and rapid response paramedics also attended the scene.
Fr Brian Donnelly from Sacred Heart Church in Plumbridge said that his wife Jennifer and their four children, aged between eight and 15, were trying to come to terms with what happened.
"It is a terrible shock for the family," he said.
"He was such a civil and decent man, and that reflected the family he came from.
"They are totally devastated. They are numb with the initial shock. There's a sense that it's incredible that this has happened.
"They are a lovely family, very well-liked and held in great esteem.
"They are in deep shock now, but it's when the days pass, and they are not distracted by so many people around them, coming up to Christmas, that it will all impact again."
Fr Donnelly said Mr Ward had been a "pillar" of the local community.
"The death isn't just the tragic passing of a young father, it is the death of someone who was such a key figure locally," the priest added.
"He provided employment and was a pillar of the community.
"Nishi was such an important figure here in the parish and in the village. He was very much a driving force for so much. He had such a strong community and civic presence and interest.
"He was well-liked, he was so popular. He was involved in everything in community life. He was involved during the clean-up during the recent flooding.
"He was anxious to get everything fixed really quickly.
"He could do that - he had contacts and the capability to make things happen.
"That's why he was such a successful businessman.
"He had big plans for the future with regards to his business, with regards to expansion.
"He was a significant employer in the area and was very much a leading light and talented businessman. He was a loving family man, a precious son and brother. He will be sorely missed."
SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan, who was a friend of Mr Ward, said people were "in shock".
"I can't even begin to imagine how devastated his family will be at the loss of such a huge figure in their lives, and the same for the wider community," he said.
"During the recent floods we spoke almost daily.
"He deeply cared about his local community and the place he was from.
"He loved life and stood up to the plate and challenges all the time.
"He never backed down and had this blunt honesty about him - that's why people respected him.
"It's a very painful thing for his family and anyone that knew him.
"He'll always be remembered for being a truly decent, solid man and someone that was widely respected."
Mr Ward founded Waste Systems Ltd in Plumbridge in 2009.
The company designs, manufactures and supplies turnkey systems and stand-alone machinery for the waste separation and recycling industries. In 2016 it landed a multi-million pound deal to supply its products throughout the UK.
It also sells its products across Europe.
Alastair Hamilton, chief executive of Invest Northern Ireland, said Mr Ward was instrumental in the global growth of Waste Systems Ltd and an integral part of Northern Ireland's manufacturing industry.
"As a valued customer of Invest NI, I had the great privilege of getting to know Nishi personally," he said.
"While he used our business solutions to help his business grow, he also gave up his time and participated in our marketing campaigns, helping us to promote the importance of exporting and innovation to businesses across Northern Ireland.
"His commitment to the growth and development of Waste Systems was widely admired and he will be missed by both the business and wider community.
"We offer our deepest sympathies to his family and business colleagues at this sad time."