Northern Ireland

Tributes paid to teenagers who died in County Armagh crash

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Media captionThe crash happened on the Cladymilltown Road on Thursday morning

Tributes have been paid to the two teenage students who died after a one-vehicle crash between Markethill and Newtownhamilton in County Armagh.

Andrew Gass and Mark Hutcheson were travelling in a car which struck a tree when it left the Cladymilltown Road on Thursday morning.

Paramedics were called to the scene of the crash at 08:30 GMT.

The 17-year-old boys studied at the Southern Regional College in Armagh.

A third boy who was in the car was injured.

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Image caption The car left the Cladymilltown Road along a stretch that is surrounded by thick woods

He is in a stable condition in hospital.

The three boys, who studied fabrication and welding, were on their way to Portadown in County Armagh to take part in a skills competition when their car left the road.

Andrew and Mark were former pupils of Markethill High School.

In a statement, the school's principal, James Maxwell, said: "The entire school community is deeply saddened by the news, and our thoughts and prayers are with both families at this sad time.

"Both boys were popular, well-mannered and respected members of the school community who demonstrated passion and commitment towards all aspects of school life.

"I have no doubt in my mind that both boys had great futures ahead of them and they will be remembered with fondness for their great generosity of spirit."

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Brian Doran, the chief executive of the Southern Regional College, said staff and students were in shock after hearing of the boys' deaths.

"It's an absolute tragedy. We are deeply saddened and our sincere condolences go out to both families and to the third student that survived the accident," he said.

In September, two young students at the same college were killed in a car crash near Rostrevor in County Down.

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Image caption A forensic team worked during the day trying to establish how the crash happened

"It's a repeat of the tragedy that struck us then," Mr Doran added.

"It's something that you cannot get over, we're all traumatised."

Police said the victims were the driver of the car and the front seat passenger.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Police said the victims were the driver of the car and the front seat passenger

A forensic team is trying to establish how the crash happened.

Democratic Unionist Party MLA William Irwin said "the whole community will be shocked".

"Almost every other day we're hearing about young people being killed on our roads," he said.

"This morning two young lads lost their lives and one was injured on their way to technical college.

"My thoughts and prayers will be with the families involved."