Shannon McQuillan laid to rest as boyfriend fights for life
The devastated parents and siblings of a teenager killed in a road accident carried her white coffin into church yesterday, before laying her to rest to the sound of the rock song 'Free Bird'.
Hundreds of mourners crowded into St Joseph's Church in Dunloy, Co Antrim, to pay their final respects to Shannon McQuillan.
The 19-year-old Ulster University law and criminology student, from Station Road in the town, died in the early hours of Saturday morning.
During the funeral service, a message was read out on behalf of Shannon's 21-year-old boyfriend, Owen McFerran.
The Ballymoney man remains in a critical condition in the intensive care unit of the Royal Victoria Hospital after being injured in the same accident.
The poignant tribute, prepared by Mr McFerran's sister, said: "Sleep tight my angel, be by my side and hold me tight.
"You are the one who can help me through this fight. My love, my best friend, my soulmate, I love you always."
As parish priest Father Liam Blaney performed Shannon's requiem mass, her grief-stricken parents Collette (49) and Paul (56) and siblings Paul (25), Charlene (20) and Kelly (18) broke down in tears.
"There is grief, there is sadness, and in this case there is the suddenness of death that has brought great sorrow to you, Shannon's family," Fr Blaney told them.
"There are parents and there are also grandparents here, and that in itself has an extra sting to it.
"The youthfulness of Shannon has been cut short."
Pupils from St Louis Grammar School, where Shannon had been a pupil, and Our Lady of Lourdes School, were present.
Praising Shannon's "giftedness" and love of dancing, rock music and her academic achievements, Fr Blaney told her family that they were left with "the hope that her life has not ended, or has not ended in vain".
"Her life now goes on into the new life," he added.
"There is a time for believing and hoping and struggling, and facing it is very difficult, the hurt and the pain.
"We will hold together the beauty of this beautiful girl, Shannon. The road which is a road of faith sometimes is a difficult road, and sometimes a road where there is a lot of hurt, and sometimes there are accidents which are things maybe we can't understand."
After the service ended, Shannon's family and friends carried her coffin to the graveside, which was covered in wreathes of bright flowers.
Shannon was knocked down on the Moneynick Road near Toomebridge in Co Antrim, in the early hours of Saturday morning.
She had earlier been taken by ambulance from Magherafelt, bound for Antrim Area Hospital, after becoming unresponsive following a slip on ice.
But, after an incident on the way, police were called and Shannon and Owen, who was in the ambulance with her, got out.
The Police Ombudsman is investigating the incident, while the Ambulance Service is undertaking an internal review.