Tributes paid to footballer James O’Donnell killed in Christmas Eve car crash on Scottish island

Police have named a 29-year-old who was pronounced dead at the scene of a crash on Christmas Eve as James O’Donnell of Leurbost, Isle of Lewis.

James O'Donnell was killed in a crash on the Isle of Harris on Christmas Eve.
James O'Donnell was killed in a crash on the Isle of Harris on Christmas Eve.

Tributes are pouring in for “lovable rogue” James O’Donnell, known as Jim, who tragically died after a crash on the A859 on the Isle of Harris at around 9am on Christmas Eve.

The road was closed for several hours to allow for a full accident investigation to take place.

Angus Mackenzie, chair of the Stornoway Sea Angling club, paid tribute to his former colleague and friend on Facebook saying: “Jim was a classic wind-up merchant and a lovable rogue, who often drove me up the wall - but just at the point of being thrown out of the Club, he would turn round and ask ‘Angie, give me a cuddle!’, and everything was alright again.

Tributes paid to James O’Donnell following fatal Christmas Eve car crash on Scottish island

"I’m going to miss his cuddles. Taken too soon. RIP.”

Members of Lochs Football Club have also paid tribute to the former striker, with club chairman, Gordon Greenhowe saying: “It was with deep sadness and shock that I received the tragic news of the untimely death of club player and legend Jim O’Donnell. He was a young man with his whole life ahead of him.

"He will forever be remembered warmly by the club, its fans and the Lochs community as a whole. Our thoughts are with Jim’s family and friends at this sad time.”

Mr O’Donnell played for the football club for eight years where he became a popular and well-loved member of the team.

He played 176 games and scored 126 goals gaining him a place in the Lochs “100 club”, an elite group of strikers who have all scored over 100 goals for the club.

A close friend and former Lochs manager, Ewen Maclean, said: “I told many people, Jim included, that he was the best ‘Number 9’ on the island and I wasn’t being biased to my best mate, I genuinely believed it.

"He had a phenomenal way of finding the back of the net, never trying to place it perfectly and find the top corner, always making the goalkeeper do the work and his record speaks for itself."

“My favourite memory of Jim as a Lochs player would arguably be his goal against Carloway in the Cup Final of 2018, muscling his way through a couple of defenders, ball bouncing about all over the place, and then knocking it past the goalkeeper when never looking in control of the ball.

“We’ve lost a fantastic player, a passionate Lochs supporter and most importantly a great friend to all. The O’Donnell family will always be ingrained in the fabric of Lochs FC thanks to Jim’s contributions.”

Police have confirmed that the investigation into the crash is still ongoing and they are appealing for any witnesses to come forward to assist their enquiries.

Sergeant Kate Park of the Road Policing Unit in Dingwall said: “Our thoughts remain with the family at this difficult time.

“The investigation into this crash is continuing and we are still appealing to any witnesses, or anyone with information that may assist our enquiries to contact officers through 101 quoting reference 0718 of December 24.”

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