News

Teenager’s death utterly devastating

Thursday, 25 May 2017

A POST mortem examination is due to be carried out on the body of a 15-year-old Laurelvale schoolgirl who was found unconscious in a Portadown woodland at the weekend.

The tragic death of the teenager - who the Ulster Gazette has not named at the wishes of her family - has stunned the close-knit community and sent shockwaves throughout the wider area.

It is understood the Craigavon Senior High School pupil took unwell on Saturday and police responded to the incident in the Corcrain area of the town at around 6pm, following reports a teenage girl was unconscious.

An ambulance was tasked and the teenager was conveyed to Craigavon Area Hospital, where she sadly died a short time later.

Local PSNI Area Commander, Chief Inspector Joe McMinn has revealed that while investigations are still at an early stage, one line of enquiry "is a possible link to drugs".

“A post mortem examination will be carried out to determine the exact cause of death," Chief Inspector McMinn said.

Newry and Armagh DUP Assembly Member William Irwin described the teenager's death as "very sad and tragic" and extended his deepest sympathy to the young girl's family.

"I understand that police are pursuing a possible link to drugs as a cause of death and local representatives in the Corcrain area have spoken of their deep concerns as to a drugs problem in that general area," Mr Irwin said.

"With that in mind, it is vital that anyone who may have been with the girl at the time comes forward and assists police with their inquiries.

"It is also important that suppliers of these lethal drugs are apprehended and face the full rigour of the law," he added.

Meanwhile, DUP Westminster candidate for Upper Bann David Simpson said his prayers are very much with the young girl's family and friends at this "utterly tragic" time.

"I know the community well and I know they will pull together and help where they can.

"To hear of a life ending in such circumstances is horrific for everyone, but none more than family and friends. A young life cut down so early. The scene is one of tragedy and devastation. 

"I have been working with statutory agencies to bring about investment in this area to help transform it and to help with youth intervention. 

"I have spoken with the PSNI and youth agencies to ensure we have support services for those who require immediate counselling and feel this great loss."

Also extending sadness at the death of the schoolgirl was Ulster Unionist Upper Bann Westminster candidate and MLA, Doug Beattie MC.

"The tragic death of a young teenage girl in the Corcrain woodland area of Portadown on Saturday evening, has devastated the local community," Mr Beattie said.

“Local people are shocked that something so awful could happen in their community.  

“This is a terrible tragedy for the young girl, her family and friends and the community at large."

Mr Beattie revealed "strenuous efforts" have been made in the area where the tragedy happened to bring about regeneration and provide facilities for young people following the closure of the community centre.

"I would particularly commend the efforts of Campbell Best and the outreach team from Y-Zone, who have been working to regenerate the woodlands and create a space which the local community can be proud of," he said.

“Saturday evening's tragedy indicates just how badly needed these efforts are," he added.

Portadown Ulster Unionist Councillor Julie Flaherty also expressed her sadness and said "the whole community will be devastated".

"As someone who lost a child myself, I know only too well the pain that this family will be facing and my thoughts and prayers are with them today.

"The whole community will be devastated by this. They will be shocked that this could happen in an area they are trying so hard to care for and provide a safe environment for all to enjoy.

"Doug Beattie MC MLA and I were down just a few weeks ago at an event the community held to celebrate the great work they are doing to regenerate this beautiful area.

"We all need to focus our minds on the young people of our Borough as this will be a shock for them too.

"I plead with them to please be careful out there and to look out for your friends," Councillor Flaherty added.

Councillor Paul Berry said he was totally shocked by the weekend events.

“As a local resident of Laurelvale and Councillor I wish to pass on my deep condolences to the young girl's family and assure them of our prayers and support for them at this very sad time of loss.

“I have been speaking to parents this morning at the local School and everyone is in shock and heartbroken for the family.

We also think of her close friends at this time and every support and counselling must to given to enable them to deal with this tragic death."

Police have revealed a large number of young people were in the Corcrain area upon their arrival and they have appealed to anyone who has any information which could help with their enquiries to contact police on 101, quoting reference 994 of 20/05/17.

Information can also be provided anonymously, without giving details, via the independent Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.

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