UK & World News

  • 8 June 2014, 21:35

Slurry Death Boy 'Friends With Everybody'

Tributes have been paid to the eight-year-old boy who died in the latest farm tragedy in Northern Ireland.

Robert Christie is understood to have been overcome by toxic fumes from a slurry tank.

His father, Bertie, 52, who was found unconscious alongside his son, remains critically ill in hospital.

The alarm was raised by a postman delivering mail to the neighbour's farm where they were working.

Robert was airlifted from the scene at Dunloy, County Antrim, but was pronounced dead in a Belfast hospital.

Teachers at Knockhollet Primary School have been meeting to decide how best to comfort his classmates.

Principal Gerry Black said: "He lived for the weekends because that was his time to get out with his Dad on the farm, and that was his passion."

"A real open wee personality, such a caring nature, he was friends with everybody, he made time for people."

Neighbours, who had been with the father and son at the local farming show last Friday, were stunned.

Bill Kennedy said: "They're extremely well known and highly regarded within the community. The entire community is devastated. Everybody you're talking to mentions it and some of them are in tears."

Only last week the Health and Safety Executive launched farm safety videos highlighting dangers for children.

Accidents involving slurry pits have been a recurring problem for Northern Ireland's large rural population.

Two years ago an Ulster rugby player, his brother and their father were killed in similar circumstances.

Nevin, Graham and Noel Spence were overcome by slurry fumes on their family farm in County Down.

John Finlay, the Mayor of Ballymoney, said everyone had a part in play in preventing these tragedies.

He said: "One farmer phoned me yesterday and said to me, I think the problem is we think it'll never happen to us but it does happen and unfortunately, it does happen too often in this community."

Bertie Christie's wife and two daughters are at his bedside and are being comforted by church friends.

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