Community ‘numb’ after tragic road crash, funeral for siblings told

A local community in Co Tyrone has been left “stunned, numb and speechless” by the tragic crash which claimed the lives of three members of the same family, a funeral for two siblings has heard.

Dan and Christine McKane, and their aunt Julia McSorley, 75, were killed in the crash last week on the A5 near Aughnacloy when the minibus they were travelling in was in a collision with a lorry.

They had been returning from the funeral of a family member in Corby, Northamptonshire.

Aughnacloy fatal crash
The coffins of Dan and Christine McKane are carried from the church (Liam McBurney/PA)

Four other family members were admitted to hospital, with two people having since been discharged.

A funeral was held for Mrs McSorley at St Eugene’s Church in Glenock on Sunday.

The song Danny Boy was sung as the siblings’ coffins were brought into The Church of The Immaculate Conception in Strabane on Monday.

One of Mr McKane’s daughters and Mrs McKane’s son later read poems they had written for them.

A representative of the Irish president Michael D Higgins and Sinn Fein Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill were among the mourners.

Rev Declan Bolan thanked them for attending and for the messages of sympathy from ministers at nearby churches.

He thanked the “incredible” crowds who turned out for the funeral to support the McKane family through the “awful pain and unspeakable horror” that “came so unexpectedly”.

Aughnacloy fatal crash
A mourner holds up the order of service following the funeral (Liam McBurney/PA)

“Our hearts are sad and broken, our pain is deep, our sadness knows no bounds,” he told mourners.

“You’ve turned up today in incredible numbers because you care and because you want to help this family through their most awful pain and unspeakable horror that has come upon them so, so unexpectedly.

“Dan and Christine and Julia should be like ourselves, walking about, doing their normal things on a Monday afternoon, and yet we know that life changed utterly in a flash coming round that bend in Aughnacloy.

“When we think they were coming from a requiem mass in Corby in England, it just accentuates the great pain and disbelief we have.

“A journey to give support and comfort to relatives in Corby ended in utter disaster. We’re stunned, we’re numb and speechless at what happened.

“Our grief is total, our wound is open.”

The two siblings had both been baptised and confirmed in the church.

Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill
Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill (left) as she speaks with a mourner (Liam McBurney/PA)

Mr McKane, 53, a father of two daughters, was described as big-hearted and a hard-working man.

“Lorry driving was in his blood, he knew every part of England, he didn’t need a satnav,” Fr Bolan said.

“He would have gone that extra mile for anyone and on anything for them, nothing was a bother to Dan McKane. He was the go-for person when something was needed, Dan was your man in times of need.”

Mrs McKane, 49, a mother of three and grandmother of two, was described as “slight in stature but big in heart”.

“She had a great laugh, she was no pushover, one look said everything. She was a pocket rocket,” he said.

“She loved her Smarties, that was her diazepam.

“Her home, her wonderful children and latterly her beautiful grandchildren were everything to Christine, she just lived for them.”

Strabane vigil
People attend a vigil at the grotto in Strabane for the victims of the collision (Claudia Savage/PA)

Fr Bolan described the gathering of 2,000 people at the grotto on Friday as “shafts of light” in the “appalling tragedy”.

“I have seen the golden, loving faithful heart of our people who gathered at the grotto on Friday to show solidarity to this family in their time of need,” he said.

“Those 2,000 people who gathered at our grotto bore witness to what is at the very best of the heart of this community and this town, and their presence spoke volumes. It was one of the finest community acts of love and compassion that I have witnessed in nearly 50 years of diocesan priesthood.”

Fr Bolan went on to thank the first responders who attended the scene of the crash last week, as well as the local priest.

He also paid tribute to a woman who lives near the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for offering to accommodate and support the family of those who remain in hospital.

“That is a beautiful gesture of love and solidarity and hope,” he added.