Family’s grief ‘doubly compounded’ after tragic Josh had survived critical illness

Friends of teenage road victim Josh Fletcher gathered outside Maze Presbyterian Church near Lisburn on Wednesday to say farewell to a young man who had “enjoyed life to the full” after surviving a rare blood disorder.

A family photo of Josh Fletcher

The former Wallace High School pupil, 18, was killed when his car collided with a cow on the Moira Road – halfway between Lisburn and Moira – in the early hours of Sunday morning.

He had been travelling towards his home in the Moira area when the tragedy occurred around 3am.

Josh had to battle the debilitating rare blood disorder Diamond-Blackfan anemia (DBA) during his early childhood but was eventually cured with a bone marrow transplant from sister Jodie.

Following a service of thanksgiving, Maze Presbyterian minister Rev William Henry said the Fletcher family’s dedication to Josh’s well-being over so many years had “doubly compounded” the heartache at his sudden loss in a road accident.

“Josh’s family had done everything possible for him,” Rev Henry said.

“There were a couple of times in his life when he faced death but he came through that. Then for this to happen at this point is doubly compounding the tragedy.

“As a church community and church family we will try to support the wider Fletcher family through this period, and by reminding them that the Lord hasn’t forgotten us and is able to comfort people in the middle of sorrow.”

There was a guard of honour outside the church provided by the NI Fire and Rescue Service colleagues of Josh’s father Joe. Due to the Covid restrictions, a large number of the engineering student’s friends had to pay their respects outside of the church.

Rev Henry added: “Even the ability to get people to mourn adequately is hugely curtailed at the moment, and people can’t express those sympathies to other people, and those who have been bereaved are unable to get that comfort that other people are able to give.”

A close family friend described Josh as “the most well-mannered and well-adjusted young man you could ever meet,” who “enjoyed life to the full”.

Police have appealed for anyone who witnessed the collision to ring 101 quoting reference 227 of 18/10/20.