Teenagers describe chaos and terror after three die in disco tragedy
Bodies piled ‘10 deep’ outside Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown in St Patrick’s night crush
Police in Co Tyrone are trying to establish the circumstances that led to a St Patrick’s night crush outside a disco in Cookstown that resulted in the deaths of three teenagers.
Young people caught up in the tragedy described scenes of chaos and terror as others at the head of a queue seeking to enter the disco were trampled on and left unable to breathe.
Some spoke of bodies “10 deep” piling up on top of each other at the front of the line while scores more at the back of the queue, unaware of the danger, appeared to be pressing forward.
One teenager described how she thought she was going to die and how she “accepted what was going to happen” before she was rescued from the crush.
“As I looked down I could see multiple bodies underneath me and as I looked up I could see multiple bodies on top of me,” she said in a Facebook post. “It was the most traumatic, frightening and stressful moment of my life.”
Lauren, from Donaghmore, outside Cookstown, was a pupil of St Patrick’s College in Dungannon. Its principal, Catherine McHugh, described her as “a beautiful girl, a shining light in our school community”.
She was a member of Euphoria Allstar Cheerleading NI, which said she was a “beautiful soul” and the “backbone” of the team.
A prayer service was held in St Patrick’s Academy in Dungannon on Monday afternoon for Connor, who was from the village of Edendork, and Morgan.
Edendork GAA club said it was “devastated to hear of the tragic passing of our much loved and highly thought of player and member Connor Currie”.
“Connor will forever be remembered with the greatest affection by all associated with our club and indeed the wider Edendork community,” it added in a Facebook post.
There seemed to be a little bit of struggling going on to get people up off the ground
A relative of Morgan , who did not wish to be named, said he was a keen soccer player. “He was just a bundle of joy always bouncing around, he seemed to have a lot of energy in him – a gentleman, he was,” he said.
There is still confusion about what started the crush.
PSNI assistant chief constable Mark Hamilton said “preliminary investigations show there was a crush towards the front door of this hotel, and in that crush people seem to have fallen.
“There seemed to be a little bit of struggling going on to get people up off the ground and that might explain also why there was a report of some fighting,” he added.
“It is heartbreaking that an event which should have been fun for these youngsters on St Patrick’s night should end in such a terrible tragedy.”
He appealed to anyone with information to bring it to the police. He also urged anyone who was attending the disco and had footage or photographs of the scene not to post them online but to hand them over to the PSNI.
The owner of the Greenvale Hotel, Michael McElhatton, offered his sympathy to the families of the victims and said his staff were assisting police with their investigation.
The Catholic primate, Archbishop Eamon Martin, also offered his sympathies to the families of the victims and said a book of condolence was opened after Mass in Saint Patrick’s church, Dungannon on Monday night.