A friend of the 14-year-old girl who lost her life in a tragic accident in Larne on Tuesday night has said that the town “really does have a dark cloud over it” after the tragedy.
All branches of the emergency services converged in large numbers on the River Inver in the town after it was reported that a girl had fallen into the water at around 9pm.
Although she was rescued from the water police later confirmed that she had died. After a post mortem yesterday, police declared her death was not suspicious.
Named locally as Gracie Gordon, her friends paid tribute to her on social media.
“You can just feel the sadness everywhere today” one said.
Another added: “Thoughts and prayers are with the wee girls Grace’s family and friends. I just can’t get over that news, that could of been any of our own. Sadly it just happened to be wee Gracie.”
She offered her deepest sympathies to the whole family circle and large group of friends, adding: “Larne really does have a dark cloud over it today.”
The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Maureen Morrow, also offered her condolences to her family and friends on behalf of the borough.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and loved ones of the young girl who died in a tragic incident in Larne last night,” she said.
“To lose a young person at any time is truly unimaginable but for this to happen in the run-up to the Christmas period is especially heartbreaking and I wish to extend the sympathies of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to this young girl’s family and all those who mourn her loss.”
The mayor also praised the members of the emergency services and volunteers from the Community Rescue Service who attended the scene on Tuesday night. She hoped that they, and anyone else affected by the tragic incident, would receive the support they need in the days ahead, she added.
Larne YMCA Youth Club offered a quiet space for Gracie’s friends last night.
“Due to the sad news we heard about Gracie we will have a quiet space tonight in youth club for anyone to call in and have a chat and a cup of tea,” it said on Facebook. “We offer our sincere thoughts and prayers to Gracie’s family and friends at this difficult time.”
One follower thanked the YMCA for its “lovely gesture”. She added: “My heart breaks for the whole family connection and Gracie’s friends. I for one today will be cherishing both my boys just that wee bit more than I do already.”
Friends of the teenager laid bouquets of flowers along the riverside yesterday.
East Antrim MLA John Stewart said the tragedy was “heartbreaking”.
“Very little will act as comfort to the parents, family and friends of this young girl at this hugely difficult time,” he said.
“My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with each of them as they begin to come to terms with this earth shattering tragedy.
“I have no doubt the entire Larne community will also be offering their thoughts and prayers and support to the family in any way they can.”
UUP MLA Roy Beggs described the incident as a “very sad news in Larne”.
People from all over Northern Ireland and one man from Larne now living in Australia expressed great sadness at the news of the tragedy.
“Been following this on Facebook, as am a Larne man, in Sydney Australia,” he said. Another added: “This is flipping horrendous. My sympathy to the family. Awful. Just awful poor we girl - thoughts an prayers for the family an all her we friends.”
Funeral details had not yet been confirmed.