Belfast Telegraph

We think of our son every second and pray he is now in heaven, say heartbroken parents of loving teenager Fintan

The grieving family of tragic Fintan McCabe pay an emotional tribute to the young Lurgan student who died after he choked on his food and reveal that their neighbour tried to revive the 17-year-old.

The parents of a teenage boy from Lurgan who died after choking on his food, have said they "still think about him every second". Fintan McCabe was only 17 when he died in Craigavon Area Hospital on Thursday, January 26.

He had been planning to meet friends that afternoon at a gym. Before his training session, he came home to get ready and quickly cook a steak.

His family said that he choked on his food and, tragically, there was no one at home at the time to help him. He was later found by his younger brother, Dominic, who quickly alerted a neighbour who then performed CPR.

Although he managed to revive him briefly, Fintan's injuries were too severe and he died that night in hospital.

A few days later, a second family in Lurgan were thrown into mourning with the death of 20-year-old Tiernan Green who passed away after suffering an asthma attack.

Before Fintan McCabe's freak accident, the former Lismore Comprehensive pupil had been studying ICT at Southern Regional College. He was also known for his love of martial arts, training with the New Era Martial Arts club in Lurgan.

His parents Peter and Linda said they were heartbroken by the devastasting loss as were his three siblings Dominic, Rebecca and Peader, along with Fintan's girlfriend Megan McGoldrick.

"He was just a great lad," his father Peter told the Belfast Telegraph.

"When he was young he was always out in the park at the swing area or playing football on the green. He grew up to be a lovely chap, the funeral was massive so he must have been well liked."

He continued: "I badly miss him, it will take me a long, long time getting over it. I'm finding it very hard, I'll think about him every second and I break down regularly. It's a terrible thing in life, but I hope to God he's in heaven now."

His mother Linda said the grieving family were still reeling from the shock and were "sailing along, hour by hour."

"He was just a lovely fella. I'm so proud of him in everything that he done," she said.

"He was studying ICT and didn't know what he wanted to be yet, he was finding his way.

"The funeral showed me just how popular he was. He said to me often he thought he had no friends, but that showed me how many he did have.

"He wouldn't have said a bad word about anybody, he was that kind of boy."

Mrs McCabe said she was able to take some comfort in the fact her son was an organ donor.

"I'm so proud of him for being an organ donor. It means someone else is going to get their life, their dreams and live on," she said.

Despite the traumatic loss, she said happy memories of her son were still able to help her smile.

"I remember once he got his hair cut, he always had this big mop on top as they all do," she recalled.

"He went to the hairdresser one day and asked for just a trim, but they cut him near bald. He was devastated, but it was so funny. He said 'mummy how am I going to go out the door,' every time I think of that I laugh. Although he was upset I was laughing and he didn't like it, he loved his hair."

Remarking on her son's enthusiasm for Mixed Martial Arts, she said: "He wanted to be an MMA fighter like Conor McGregor."

"He'd often come home and show his younger brother Dominic the moves. Dominic would shout up and joke to me, 'mummy he's hitting me' and I'd laugh."

She said the family had been deeply touched by the huge turnout at his funeral.

"It was overwhelming how many people were there and it meant a lot to know that he and the family had friends."

Mrs McCabe said the sudden loss had also been especially difficult for Fintan's girlfriend Megan McGoldrick.

"They met at Lismore school and she was the first girlfriend he ever brought home," she said.

"The two of them lived in each other's pockets, glued at the hip. She's been up and down and calls in sometimes. She's not taking it too well at all."

Mrs McGregor said she was also grateful to the intensive care team at Craigavon Area Hospital who had fought to save Fintan.

"They were absolutely amazing, they couldn't do enough for the family," she said.

Fintan's uncle, Gerard Toland, also paid an emotional tribute to his late nephew.

"He always put other people first and wouldn't have went to bed without giving his mummy a hug and saying goodnight," he said.

"If his mum made him a pair of socks or got him a cup of tea he would always thank her. He kept fit with his martial arts club where he was well liked. He seemed to have a very strong friend base. Such a nice pleasant young fella."

He said he still found the sudden nature of his nephew's death hard to believe. No one was expecting it," he said. "Even when the neighbour came and did CPR to get his heart going, he had no idea he had choked at this point.

"He had been out with friends, they dispersed to get ready and do a bit of training up at the gym. He told them he would meet them there at 4pm.

"Fintan went home and threw himself a steak on the pan as he usually would do.

"He got in to difficulties and there was no one there to help him," Mr Toland added.

"The neighbour was alerted by his younger brother who is only 14. When the neighbour arrived Fintan was in the hallway and was unconscious. The neighbour revived him but it was too late.

"The family seem to be holding together nicely, but behind closed doors I'm sure they're in bits.

"Their hearts are broken just like mine. I can't even imagine the pain they're going through."

"My favourite memory of Fintan was when he was young he had a wee Paddington Bear his aunt from America gave him, he wouldn't leave home without it. He had it under his arm in every photo. His mum left it at the side of his coffin."

Echoing the feelings of many, Mr Toland said: "He was just kind hearted, well loved and will be sadly missed by his whole family."

Belfast Telegraph


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