Northern Ireland news

20-year-old is second family member to die on roads

 Dylan McNicholl, who died after being struck by a van near Glenullin in Co Derry
Connla Young

A 20-year-old student knocked down in Co Derry yesterday is the second member of his family to die in a road tragedy.

Dylan McNicholl was struck by a van on the Tirkeeran Road in Glenullin at around 7.40am on Thursday.

He was a student at North West Regional College in Limavady and it is understood he regularly walked the two and a half miles to and from Garvagh to catch a bus to classes.

In 1999 his uncle Sean was also killed in a car accident in Glenullin - just 10 days after the family had buried his mother.

A mainly rural district, Glenullin is steeped in the GAA where the local club - John Mitchell’s - sits at the heart of the local community.

Former Derry GAA county board chairman Gerard O’Kane is a first cousin of Mr McNicholl’s father Seamus and said the local people are stunned by the tragedy.

“It’s unbelievable, everybody is devastated,” he said.

“Everyone will realise what it’s like in a small community, everyone knows everybody.

“A lot of people have probably not taken it in yet.”

He said people have rallied around the McNicholl family.

“The family will get a lot of support from the community and that’s the benefit of living in a small community.

“Everyone is hurting today, there is nobody smiling in Glenullin today.”

Mr McNicholl lived with his parents Seamus and Ann at their home near the crash scene.

His distraught parents and three brothers, Ryan, Karl and Jack, were being comforted by family and friends last night.

A former pupil of St Paul's College in Kilrea, the 20-year-old was doing a course in combined studies in Limavady and it is believed he wanted to work with marine wildlife.

Mr O’Kane said he was a popular figure who was "full of life" and although he didn’t play for the GAA club, he could always be found there on a Saturday enjoying a kick-about with other locals.

The former GAA official said Mr McNicholl hoped his studies would take him to university.

“He would have loved to go to California and work there in some of the aquariums,” he said..

SDLP East Derry assembly member John Dallat said last night his "heart goes out to the McNicholl family and the entire community”.

“It’s a tragedy on the dawn of Christmas and obviously the young man was well liked and trying to improve his studies.”

A spokesman for North West Regional College said students and staff “are deeply saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Dylan”.

“We wish to extend our sincere sympathies and condolences to Dylan’s family and friends at this time,” he said.

The van driver, believed to be aged in his 30s, was arrested but later released on police bail “pending further enquiries”.

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