Rugby star Nevin Spence and family die in slurry horror
THE death of a young rugby star, his brother and their father in a farming tragedy has caused deep shock and disbelief, community leaders said last night.
Investigators are still examining the circumstances of theaccident, which is believed to have unfolded as the family members came to each other’s aid after falling into a slurry tank at their farm in NorthernIreland.
Ulster Rugby star Nevin Spence, 22, was killed along with his 30-year-old brother Graham, who was married with two children, and their 52-year-oldfather, Noel.
The sportsman’s sister, Emma, an artist, was taken to Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital for treatment for the inhalation of fumes and her condition is described as stable.
There is widespread shock at the blow to the remaining family members, Nevin’s mother Esme and his sister Laura.
Emergency services went to the family farm in Drumlough Road outside the Co Downvillage shortly after 6pm on Saturday following reports that four people had fallen into a slurry pit.
Investigations into the cause of the tragedy are ongoing, amid unconfirmed reports that the family died trying to save one another, or that the tragedy may have been sparked by efforts to save a dog from the slurry tank.
The Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is to investigate the circumstances and establish a clear picture of how the tragedy unfolded.It said: “From HSENI’s initial investigations, it understands that the three family members who entered an underground slurry tank died from the effects of exposure to slurry gases.
“The exact sequence of events is not yet clear but HSENI isinvestigating a definite line of inquiry.”
Presbyterian moderator Dr Roy Patton said the scale of the latest tragedy had stunned people: “We are all left in a state of bewilderment and shock in the wake of this tragic accident.
“I know that prayers were said in many churches this morning and I would assure the Spence family of our continuing support in both public and private devotions as we pray for them at this awful time and for Emma’s speedy recovery.”
He said each of the three men who died had touched the lives of many in sport and farming circles.
Nevin Spence was a star of the Ulster Rugby team and was tipped to have a glittering international career ahead of him.
At Ulster’s home stadium of Ravenhill in Belfast, his former colleagues were visibly shaken by news of the tragedy.
Chief executive of Ulster Rugby, Shane Logan, said: “I am deeply saddened by this tragic news.
“Nevin was a wonderfulplayer but also a wonderfulperson.
“He was well liked by everyone who knew him and his loss will be deeply felt by his teammates and everyone at Ulster Rugby.”
“He will be sorely missed and the thoughts of everyone involved in the game are with his family at this time.”
He said Nevin was “a man of absolute integrity, complete determination, great humility, a fine team player, and an all round exceptional individual”.
One of Ulster’s most famous former players, David Humphreys, who is now director of professional rugby at the club, said he was overwhelmed by the loss of a man he had watched rise through the ranks.
“All of us are struggling to come to terms with what has happened,” he said.
Northern Ireland first minister Peter Robinson and deputy first minister Martin McGuinness said they were deeply saddened by the tragic accident.
The ministers said: “This tragedy has shocked the entire community and is a terrible reminder to us all of the dangers of farming life. Our thoughts are also with farmers everywhere at this time.”
The Ulster Farmers’ Union said the deaths had shocked the entire farming community.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 19 C
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Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
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