Belfast Telegraph

Stephen Wilkinson funeral told how he 'changed hearts and minds'

By Eamon Sweeney

A young man killed in a road collision "changed hearts and minds by the way he lived", a priest has said.

Father Sean McCartan was speaking following the funeral service of Stephen Wilkinson yesterday.

The 26-year-old pedestrian died after he was struck by a car in the early hours of Sunday morning on Chapel Street in Cookstown.

His funeral Mass was conducted at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament at Mullinahoe, near Ardboe.

Speaking afterwards, Fr McCartan, the parish priest, said Mr Wilkinson's relatives have shown remarkable courage as they mourn their loss.

He also paid tribute to Mr Wilkinson.

"He was a very easy going and laidback person," the priest said. "He was very generous and considerate.

"His family acted remarkably over the last few days.

"They were particularly calm and moderate during the service."

Mr Wilkinson, who was from Mullanahoe Road near Ardboe, is understood to have been walking when he was struck by a Ford Focus around 3.30am last Sunday.

The 26-year-old driver of the vehicle was arrested and questioned by the PSNI.

He was later released on bail pending further inquiries.

Mr Wilkinson is survived by his mother Sharon, father Christopher, brother Ryan, sister-in-law Shannon, girlfriend Bronagh and godson Noah.

In a death notice, his family said his passing was "deeply regretted".

After yesterday's funeral service, Mr Wilkinson's remains were interred in the adjoining cemetery.

Mr Wilkinson was one of three people to die last weekend following accidents on Northern Ireland's roads.

On Saturday, 19-year-old Steven Sunstrum from east Belfast died from injuries he sustained in a crash in the city the previous Wednesday.

Also on Saturday, Neil Stewart, a 49-year-old motorcyclist, died after a collision on the Tandragee Road in Newry.

Mr Stewart's funeral will take place tomorrow.

It will leave his home at 1pm to Ballenon Reformed Presbyterian churchyard for interment followed by a service of thanksgiving.

The deaths bring the total killed on Northern Ireland's roads so far this year to 47.

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