Community ‘numb’ as bonfire builder who fell to death named locally as John Steele
The father aged in his 30s was confirmed to be “assisting in the building of the bonfire”, when he died after falling on Saturday night.
A man who died after falling from a Co Antrim bonfire has been named locally as John Steele, with the Larne community said to be “numb” with shock.
The father aged in his 30s was confirmed to be “assisting in the building of the bonfire”, according to the PSNI, when he died after falling on Saturday night.
The accident happened at the Antiville pyre, not far from the larger one which has been in the headlines in recent days.
It is understood officials from the local council will now begin the process of removing the bonfire from the site.
The tragedy comes less than 48 hours before bonfires are lit across Northern Ireland in celebration of the Twelfth.
Paying tribute, the Constable Anderson Memorial Flute Band wrote on social media: “The officers and members of Constable Anderson Memorial Flute Band are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of John Steele after an accident at a local Larne Bonfire.
“John’s daughter Macy-Lee has recently joined the band and we extend our deepest condolences to her.
"The band also have close ties to the Steele family and we are especially thinking of our members Tia and Tamera Steele. Our thoughts and prayers are also with the entire family at this hard time.”
A local minister has described the sense of shock in the Larne community following the death.
Speaking during their morning service, Craigy Hill Presbyterian Church minister Ben Preston told those gathered: “I am sure you have heard the tragic news of what happened last night.
"Our deepest condolences are with the family and indeed with the whole community. We will be here for you, we will be all too pleased to read God's word, to pray and to offer a cup of tea.
“We will plan for something maybe here in the afternoon, to offer ministry at the bonfire. I understand from council they are going to be taking the bonfire down which is wholly appropriate.
"We are numb and we are in shock at such an accident and such a tragedy. Continue to hold the family, the community and each other here in your prayers.”
In a statement to Sunday Life, the Ambulance Service confirmed paramedics were called out just before 10pm last night.
A Northern Ireland Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service received a 999 call at 21:37 on Saturday 9 July following reports of a person having fallen from a height in the Fairway area of Larne.
"NIAS despatched a Rapid Response Paramedic, 2 Emergency Crews and a doctor to the incident.
"Following assessment and initial treatment at the scene, no-one was transported to hospital.”
DUP MP for the area, Sammy Wilson, attended the scene. He said: “It’s a real tragedy. I think his mum was there shortly after it happened. She is shattered by it. A local minister was also there. There was nothing could be done to save his life. People are shocked and horrified.”
SDLP MP Claire Hanna wrote: “Tragic loss of life in Larne last night. Deepest sympathies to the family of this man.”
Ulster Unionist Party MLA John Stewart said it was “tragic news” for the area.
"My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the man’s family, friends and the entire community at this really difficult time,” he said.
“This was a terrible accident and the local community will rally round to give the family as much support as possible.
“I would appeal to everyone to cooperate with the investigation into what happened.”
East Antrim Alliance Party MLA Stewart Dickson tweeted his condolences to the man.
"Sad news from #Larne as a young man died after falling from a 11th night bonfire being built in Antiville,” he wrote.
"My deepest sympathy goes to his family and friend and the whole community as it reflects on this tragic death.”
Meanwhile, other bonfires across Northern Ireland paid tribute to the man, including the nearby Craigyhill, who wrote on social media: “It is with deepest sympathy the tragedy that happened tonight to a fellow bonfire builder in the Antiville estate in Larne.
“It is with his family wishes that the Craigyhill bonfire carries on and beats the world record in his memory.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his immediate family circle.”
In a statement, the PSNI’s Adrian Bryan said: "Police can confirm that a man in his 30’s has died following an accident at a bonfire site in the Fairway area of Larne last night, Saturday July 9.
“We understand that the man was assisting in the building of the bonfire when this tragic accident occurred. Our thoughts are very much with his family at this time.”
“Our investigation has commenced and we are appealing for witnesses, especially those who were in the area last night around 10.15pm, to come forward and contact us on 101 quoting reference number 1866 09/07/22.
“Alternatively, you can submit a report online using our non-emergency reporting form via http://www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/ You can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://crimestoppers-uk.org/.”
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