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Thai crash victim to be laid to rest

By Lisa Smyth

The family of the Londonderry man killed in the Thai air disaster were today preparing to lay him to rest.

The remains of Aaron Toland (22) were returned to the family home on Friday evening, escorted by his father, Myles, and brother, Conan.

Meanwhile, Chris Cooley - Aaron's best friend - last night remained in a Thai hospital where he was being treated for his injuries.

Mr Cooley was sitting beside his friend in Row 6 on flight OG 269 when the plane rammed through a low retaining wall and split in two after it crashed.

It is understood his condition has improved and that he has been moved out of intensive care. It is hoped he will make a full physical recovery but is said to be extremely traumatised by the incident.

Hundreds of people are expected to attend today's funeral which will take place from St Columba's Church, Long Tower this morning at 10am.

Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney accompanied both sets of relatives to the Far East and told how the Cooley and Toland families had formed "a strong bond" in the aftermath of the tragedy.

The pair were on the trip of a lifetime to work in Australia for a year and made a last-minute decision to travel to Phuket from Bangkok.

Aaron Toland recently graduated from the University of Ulster with a 2:1 in Business Studies.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he was shocked to discover Aaron, who he had known for years, was dead. Mr Toland is also a nephew of Sinn Fein deputy mayor of Derry, Patricia Logue, who has paid tribute to the Thai authorities for their speedy organisation of the repatriation of Aaron's remains.

Belfast Telegraph


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