Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Tributes paid to fatal road victim who was ‘loved by everyone’

A Newry GAA club has said it is “truly devastated and heartbroken” at the loss of its senior team player who was tragically killed in a road accident on Wednesday last.

Twenty-seven-year-old Karl Heaney from Warrenpoint had attended evening training at his Newry Mitchels club in Greenbank Industrial Estate and was returning to Belfast where he now lives and works when the fatality occurred around 11.30pm.  His silver Ford Fusion was involved in a collision with a black Kia Ceed on the A1 between Banbridge and Dromore, close to the junction of the Halfway Road.  

Following the crash, the 32-year-old male driver of the Kia and the 30-year-old female driver of a third car, a red Kia Rio, were arrested and taken into police custody on suspicion of a number of motoring offences.A former student at Newry’s Abbey Grammar, Karl worked as a teaching assistant at Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School in Belfast and was a dedicated member, volunteer and player with Newry Mitchels GFC.  In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the club paid tribute to the popular young man, saying his death will leave “a huge void”.

The heartfelt statement read: “On behalf of the Committee, senior team management, players and the wider membership of the club we are truly devastated and heartbroken to learn of the sudden death of our esteemed member, volunteer and senior team player Karl Heaney.  Karl was a true gentleman who never had a bad word to say about anyone and always had a smile on his face. Always willing to help out in any capacity within the club, he epitomised all that is good in the GAA.

“Karl Heaney, a dedicated Gael, senior player for Newry Mitchels GFC, an avid Liverpool FC fan, but most of all a devoted son, brother, uncle, friend and boyfriend of Ciara, he will missed by everyone who knew him within our club and far beyond and his loss will leave a huge void in the many lives he touched.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his parents, sisters, girlfriend Ciara and his wider family circle.  Ar Dheis De go raibh a anam.”

Karl was a former member of St. Mary’s Youth Club in the city where his father Mickey is a committee member.  The club expressed its “deep sorrow” at the loss of Karl and, as a mark of respect, a planned trip this week has been postponed.

“It is with deep sorrow and regret to hear of the loss of such a lovely lad, our thoughts and prayers are with the entire family at this very sad time,” the club stated.

Sympathy was also extended from New York-based GAA club Brooklyn Shamrocks GFC, which Karl joined in summer 2014.

A spokesperson said: “To say Karl was loved by everyone that met him is an understatement. There was a smile permanently stretched across his face at all times. He was always up for the craic and a laugh. It was a pleasure just to be in his company. The club extends its heartfelt sorrow and condolences to the Heaney family, Karl’s girlfriend Ciara and all Karl’s friends at home and here in New York.”

Newry, Mourne and Down SDLP Councillor Gillian Fitzpatrick said Mr Heaney had “his whole life ahead of him” and extended her condolences to his heartbroken family.

“It’s horrific, so sad, and it brings a darkness and sadness to the community.  I would like to express my sympathies for another tragic death on our roads. It’s every parent and every family’s worst nightmare. He had his whole life ahead of him, and to be taken away so young is just horrible. Newry Mitchels will rally round and offer support, and the whole community will look after this man’s family and friends.

“In times like this we show the strength of the community,” she said.

Crotlieve Independent councillor Jarlath Tinnelly also offered his sympathy, describing the tragedy as “heartbreaking”.

Requiem Mass for Karl was held in St. Mary’s Church, Newry yesterday (Sunday) before he was laid to rest in Monkshill cemetery.

Meanwhile, police have appealed to anyone who witnessed the collision or observed a black Kia Ceed or red Kia Rio travelling on the A1 late on Wednesday evening, to contact them on 101 quoting reference 1643 23/05/18.