Mourners attend services for cousins killed in crash

Aaron McDonald who was killed in a car crash on the main Derry to Strabane road
Andrea McKernon

The funeral of the second man killed in a car crash on the outskirts Derry on Wednesday has taken place 24 hours after the service for his cousin who died in the same accident.

Both from Donemana, near Strabane, they were remembered in separate services on Saturday and Sunday.

Aaron McDonald, 19, and his cousin Michael McDonald, 21, were killed in the accident on the Victoria Road near Newbuildings.

Aaron's funeral was held at St James' Parish Church in Donemana on Saturday and Michael's was at the same church yesterday.

The grief-stricken families requested that no media attend the services.

Church of Ireland minister at St James', Rev Judi McGaffin, said around 400 people, the majority of them young people, had attended the funerals.

"The silence was palpable as the coffin (of Aaron) came into the church - the church was absolutely packed to overflowing - and the sadness was clearly very deep," she said on Saturday.

"It's difficult enough having to face into one funeral, but into two is very, very difficult for the families and extremely difficult for a very small and a very tight-knit and a very caring community.

"I ministered in Donemana for a number of years and I know what a caring and compassionate community they are and they have just been so stunned by the tragic death of these two incredibly popular young men."

Michael McDonald's18-year-old brother who was driving and was later arrested, and a 16-year-old girl from Derry, who was a front-seat passenger, were taken to hospital but their injuries were not life-threatening.

He was subsequently arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving, causing death and dangerous driving causing grievous bodily injury and released on bail pending further enquiries.

It is understood the two cousins were back seat passengers in a Volkswagen Golf when it hit a tree and broke up between Newbuildings and Magheramason around 3.30am.

To date 29 people have been killed on Northern Ireland roads since the start of the year. Five-year-old Katie Grace Bogle from Bangor died on Thursday evening when her scooter was hit by a car.


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