The funerals of two teenage girls killed in a car crash on Monday night while on their way to a debs ball are to be held separately on Thursday.
Dlava Mohamed (16) and her friend Kiea McCann (17), both students at Largy College in Clones, were killed when the car in which they were travelling left the road and crashed into a tree on the N54 in Legnakelly.
Dlava’s funeral will be held in Dublin, while Kiea will be buried after Mass in Clones.
Three other people who were in the car – Dlava’s sister Auin (18), Oisín Clerkin (18) and the male driver of the car (60) – remain in hospital.
The body of Dlava Mohamed is expected to arrive back at her family home on the Diamond in Clones at 7pm on Wednesday evening. The Mohamed family, who are orginally from Syria, are then expected to travel with their late daughter’s body to Clonskeagh Mosque in Dublin early on Thursday morning. She will be buried at Newcastle Muslim Cemetery in the afternoon.
Kiea McCann’s funeral procession will leave her family home on Thursday at 1.30pm to arrive at Sacred Heart Chapel, Clones, for 2pm funeral Mass. She will be buried afterwards in Mount St Oliver’s Cemetery, Clones,
Dlava’s brother has spoken of his family’s confusion and pain in the wake of the tragedy. “I’m just confused. I don’t know what to do, how to feel. Because this is my first time losing someone this close in my life,” Rashid Mohamed (17) said.
Mr Mohamed said that he had lost people in his war-torn home country, Syria, but that the loss of his sister was different, more painful. “Everybody is speechless. They don’t know what to do or what to say… It’s hard to say anything, there’s a lot of memories,” he said.
Mr Mohamed described Kiea McCann as a best friend, and a sister. “She was my best friend. She was in our house every day – she was like a sister to me. I’ve lost two sisters, and one in the hospital.”
Mr Mohamed said he had hopes that his sister Auin would recover from her injuries. “You just don’t know what to feel… there’s just no explanation.”
He praised the supportiveness of the Clones community. His family moved there from Syria six years ago, he said.
“The community is very good. It’s like one of the best communities ever. They are [supportive]. Wherever you walk, they talk to you. All my friends… it’s a pretty good community, that’s the good thing.
“All my friends have been talking to me for the past one, two days. They don’t leave me. They text me, they come to my house.”
Mr Mohamed was standing outside his home on the Diamond, in Clones. On the steps up to the front door, a bouquet of roses had been left.
Earlier, Sharon McGuinness, principal of Largy College, described the scene of “utter heartbreak and devastation” at her school on Monday night when buses returned students from the cancelled debs ball after the crash.
Ms McGuinness said speaking to the students on Monday had been “the hardest five minutes of my career”, adding that both girls had been an integral part of the school community and she was very aware that there would be two empty chairs in the school in September.
Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, the principal paid tribute to the “two beautiful girls” who were best friends. Kiea had completed her Leaving Cert Applied and Dlava had completed her Junior Cert and was to enter transition year.
“Words can’t describe how our school, the community of Clones is feeling just at this time,” Ms McGuinness said. When asked to describe the two girls, Ms McGuinness said Dlava was always smiling.
“She was a gorgeous soul, loyal and bubbly, and she was always very happy around the school. She radiated goodness and she was just full of energy,” the principal said.
“Kiea was pleasant and courteous. She had a great love of children, and she had hoped to go on to study childcare at third level. And that is a dream that will just not be realised.”
Ms McGuinness said nothing could prepare any school or any parent or any community for the events that unfolded on Monday evening. She explained how it was decided to bring the students back to the school so they would be in a familiar place with familiar faces.
“Speaking to the students and parents that were there at that time, that was indeed the hardest five minutes of my career. It was just a scene of utter heartbreak and devastation.”
The school would provide support for the weeks and months to come, she said. Ms McGuinness visited both families on Tuesday and said the school would provide every support for the funerals.
“We will look at how to support the families as best we can. The past 36 hours has definitely taken a toll on all of us and everyone in our community. And we can’t find the words to just speak about how we feel,” Ms McGuinness said.
“Students can’t find the words to express the emotions of anger and hurt that they feel, and over the next while we will continue to work together to support each other.
“This tragedy has really highlighted the solidarity and cohesion and care of our school community and indeed the community of Clones. We’ve received a huge volume of cards, messages of support from all across the country. We’ve a tough time ahead and it’s going to be a long journey and a long road.
“Our focus will be on our students and on providing the support to help and a listening ear and being there for our students in these dark days that lie ahead for us.”
The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) said it is providing support to staff and the school community at Largy College. NEPS psychologists met staff on Tuesday and will continue to provide support in the coming weeks and months.
Speaking at Clones Garda station on Tuesday, Superintendent Patrick O’Connell said members of the victims’ families visited the scene on Monday night.
“[They are] suffering from shock and trauma. They were at the scene last night, so they’re trying to deal with the whole aftermath of that, and we’re there to try and support them.
“We have family liaison officers appointed and we will continue over the days and weeks coming to do that,” he said, asking that the families’ privacy be respected.
Mr O’Connell added that gardaí and the victims’ relatives are “eternally grateful” to members of the public who stopped to offer their help at the scene of the crash.