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Shannon McQuillan (19) knocked down and killed just 20 minutes after ambulance left

Shannon McQuillan (19) and Owen McFerran (21) were struck by a van on Moneynick Road in Toome, Co Antrim at around 3.40am on Saturday

SHANNON McQuillan was knocked down and killed just 20 minutes after an ambulance - which was called to treat her - left the scene, it has emerged.

The 19-year-old and her boyfriend Owen McFerran (21) were struck by a van on Moneynick Road in Toome, Co Antrim at around 3.40am on Saturday.

The law and criminology student from Dunloy died, while Mr McFerran yesterday remained critically ill at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital.

His family said the young joiner is "putting up a good fight".

Two separate investigations are underway into how the couple came to be hit by the vehicle a short time after both police and paramedics attended them.

An ambulance was called at 2.06am, after Ms McQuillan had reportedly fallen on ice in Magherafelt and was "unresponsive".

According to the Police Ombudsman's Office, which is investigating "police actions during the events leading up to the collision", officers were with the couple twice in the hours before the accident.

"As part of routine police patrolling, officers were in the area of Secrets Nightclub in Magherafelt in the early hours of Saturday morning," a spokesman said.

"Between 1.30am and 2am Shannon slipped on ice and required medical assistance. An ambulance was requested."

Paramedics were at the scene within five minute, where they began treatment before transferring her to an emergency vehicle.

However, at 3.20am - 20 minutes before she was struck by a van - the journey was "terminated" on the outskirts of Toome.

An Northern Ireland Ambulance Service spokesman said "the crew `cleared' and became available for calls at 03:20."

No reason was given for the termination, but it is understood that police were called to the scene by paramedics and attended.

The Ombudsman said officers were "called to an incident on the Moneynick Road, near Toome, at around 2.50am, as a result of which there was further contact between police and Shannon and Owen".

Sinn Féin assembly member Philip McGuigan said "PSNI officers were the last to see Shannon on that busy road at that time of the morning in very, very cold conditions after she had suffered a traumatic blow to the head through a fall".

The PSNI said it had referred the matter to the Police Ombudsman's office.

The Ombudsman yesterday issued an appeal for witnesses who "saw any interaction between police officers and the young couple before the fatal traffic collision" to contact them on the freephone witness appeal line 0800 032 7880.

The spokesman expressed "our sincere condolences to Shannon's family on their tragic and untimely loss" adding "thoughts are also with Owen's family and friends at this very difficult time".

It is reported that the couple were at the park and ride facility at the Toome bypass shortly before they were hit by the van, with the collision happening on Moneynick Road between it and a nearby service station.

Tributes have poured in for the young University of Ulster student, with lecturer, Conor Murray, describing her as "a wonderful student with a bright future".

Requiem Mass will be held for Ms McQuillan at St Joseph's Church, Dunloy at 11am Wednesday, with interment afterwards in adjoining cemetery.

* Ms McQuillan's uncle Frank was knocked down and killed on the same stretch of road almost exactly 14 years ago, not 20 as was reported yesterday.

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