'Our hearts are broken': Tributes paid to Jack, 19, after tragic death in Spain

Maria Flannery

Reporter:

Maria Flannery

Email:

maria.flannery@limerickleader.ie

'Heartbreaking': Limerick teenager dies following fall from balcony in Spain

The late Jack Walsh, 19

TRIBUTES are being paid to a 19-year-old Askeaton man who died after a 39-foot fall from a balcony on a Spanish island.

Jack Walsh, a triplet with two sisters, had been on life support since the Santa Ponsa accident in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Jack’s parents, Tony and Sandra, made the difficult decision to switch off the life-support machine this Thursday, after his sisters Tara and Orla made it to Mallorca to say their goodbyes.

In a post to Facebook, Jack's mother thanked people for their support.

“Our lives will never be the same, the support we have received as a family has been amazing and is a true reflection of what a wonderful young man Jack turned out to be.

“Jack ticked the donor box on his learner license and it is a comfort knowing people are alive today as a result of Jack’s tragic accident.

“Thanks to everyone for all the kind words and wishes. Your support is really appreciated at this sad time.

“Our hearts are broken.”

The news has enveloped the town of Askeaton in ‘shock and sadness’.

“It is just heartbreaking for the whole community. The family is very well known through their involvement in soccer, the schools and the community. They have a huge family presence in Askeaton,” said one local.

“It has a huge impact locally and everyone is going around a bit numb, a bit shell-shocked.”

Askeaton AFC paid tribute to Jack, an avid soccer player, on social media:

“To Be Forever Remembered, Forever Missed.

“Askeaton AFC sends its condolences to the family, relatives and the many friends of local lad Jack Walsh who tragically passed away yesterday evening. May he rest in peace.”

“Words cannot express our deep sadness at the passing of Jack. May the comfort of God, relatives and friends help the Walsh family through these difficult times,” finished the tribute.

Askeaton GAA and the local Bord Na nÓg paid tribute to the local teenager.

"We wish to extend our deepest sympathies to Tony, Sandra, Tara, Orla, the Walsh and the Sheahan, O'Sullivan and Cuddihy families, and friends of Jack at this very sad time.

"Jack was a member of Askeaton/Ballysteen Bord Na nÓg from under 6s up to under 16s. He was always dependable and what he lacked in stature on the field was outweighed by his determination and always gave 100%. The Walsh family have been involved in the GAA in Askeaton for many years and Jack's late grandfather Bobby played in goals for Limerick for many years. Our hearts are broken for you all. Ar raibh dheis ar ainm dilis."

Ballysteen GAA also posted a tribute to the late teenager.

“All at Ballysteen GAA would like to offer the Walsh family our deepest sympathy and condolences at the passing of Jack Walsh.

“Jack had many friends within the club and was a member of our back to back West Limerick minor football winning teams in 2015/2016. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of Jack's family and friends at this moment. May he rest in peace.”

The young man, an Arsenal fan, flew out for the holiday straight after sitting a Leaving Certificate maths exam on Monday at Colaiste Mhuire, Askeaton. He was joining friends who were already in Santa Ponsa.

Sixth year students at the school, who are still sitting Leaving Cert exams, were “distraught” upon learning the news of his fall on Tuesday.

“They were in an awful state coming out of the exams. They had to go in and do French after hearing the news,” said one local parent.

Many of the students still have exams to do in the coming days. The school has put supports in place for the students who are affected by their friend’s death.

Jack had been repeating Leaving Cert maths for a trade apprenticeship.

Police in Mallorca are investigating the fall. The friends who were with Jack in Santa Ponsa, who also from the Askeaton area, have been cooperating with local police to get to the bottom of what happened, and some of their parents have also flown out to be with them through the ordeal.

It is believed that some of the friends tried to save the young man during the incident.

The accident has sent shockwaves through the community in Askeaton since Tuesday. One local person described the experience of going shopping on Tuesday and seeing people visibly distressed in the town. “People are crying, people are holding back the tears.”

At the primary school drop-off, a parent said that people could not even talk — “they were filling up with tears”.

“They were very involved in the soccer club, Jack and the girls would play and their father would train soccer teams,” said a local.

“They [the family] would always be very helpful and involved in the community, between soccer, summer camps and things like that. People are frustrated, wondering ‘why did it happen to him’ — it’s so unfair,” said the local.

Friends have been posting tributes to the late teen on social medial. “No numbers could explain how many hearts broke last night,” read one tribute. “You will be missed. Thoughts with Tara and Orla and the rest of the family,” read another.

The family is now faced with repatriating the young man's remains to his hometown of Askeaton.