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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Paul Healy & Clare McCarthy

Greece holiday tragedy 'nightmare every parent dreads' as two teens remembered

The two teenagers, Andrew O'Donnell and Max Wall, who tragically died on their Leaving Cert holiday in Greece have been described as "fantastic young men with they lives ahead of them".

The two friends had both recently graduated from St Michael’s College in Ballsbridge, South Dublin, and had been part of a large group of classmates who had been away on holiday.

The principal of St Michael's Secondary School, Tim Kelleher, said "our hearts are broken" and families have been plunged into "deep sadness" after the deaths of two recent graduates on the Greek island of Ios.

READ MORE: Tributes paid to Leaving Cert pals who died in 'devastating' Greece holiday tragedy

Andrew O’Donnell, 18, is suspected to have lost his life in a tragic accident, while Max Wall, also 18, is understood to have passed away from natural causes while both on the island of Ios.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Principal Tim Kelleher said Andrew O’Donnell was a “fantastic young man" with a "very bright future". He said he was a "great sportsman, fantastic footballer”, a “huge supporter of the school” as well as being “academically bright” and he was "looking forward to going to college".

“Similarly, Max was a very bright young man. Fantastic sportsman as well, passionate about his rugby and a really bright academically young man also."

"Unfortunately, both families got the news yesterday that their future had been taken from them and we’re obviously devastated for them, their family and their friends and we’re here to help and support them in any way we can over the next days and weeks.”

Mr Kelleher also said that some members of the school’s parent’s association have flown out to the Greek island of Ios to support the O’Donnell and Wall families in their time of need.

Meanwhile the other boys who that travelled to Greece for the holiday are due to arrive home shortly.

He said the deceased boys’ friends are a “very tight-knit group” and have been “traumatised” and "shocked" by the tragedy.

He said: "These guys are absolutely traumatised and they just want to come home to their families, to their school, to their community,” he said.

"We’re here to welcome them home and to help and support those boys through their grief in whatever way we can, because they’re absolutely devastated.”

Mr Kelleher added: "It's exactly the nightmare that every parent dreads when groups of children go away, you just don't want to get the call that your child is missing but two of our families have had that call and we are devastated for them."

Mr Kelleher said it was the "darkest day" for St Michael’s College and a book of condolence will be open a the school from today.

A member of the public lays a floral tribute at St. Michael's College following the deaths of two students, Andrew ODonnell (18) and Max Wall (18) (Mick O'Neill)

The school also has “robust” counselling services that all students are made aware over and they will be available over the entire summer break, while the Department of Education is also offering support for students.

Also on Morning Ireland, the past president of St Michael's Union Tom McCormack said: "It was a devastating day, we've been heartened by the huge volume of messages of support from government ministers, councillors, senators, other schools.

"Our sister school, St Mary's, eight years ago had the Berkeley tragedy and we are now experiencing our darkest day."

The school said in a statement on Sunday that it was "a day of immense sadness for the school", and said their thoughts were with the family and friends of the two boys.

Today several mourners were seen placing flowers outside the front gates of St Michael’s College, where a book of condolence has also been opened.

And speaking to reporters at the college, Pat Kitterick, Chair of the Board of Directors at the Spiritan Education Trust said:

“Over the weekend the Spiritan Education family were shocked and deeply saddened to hear the news of the passing of two young men, Andrew O’Donnell and Max Wall, recent past students of St. Michael’s College, Ailesbury Road.

“Our thoughts are with the parents and families of these two young men who today are suffering immeasurable loss.

“We extend our deepest sympathy and support to their grieving families, to all in their wider circle of friends and fellow classmates who will be mourning their passing and to the Board of Management, the school leaders and all our colleagues on the staff of St Michael’s College.

“We will stand with them as they in turn support the students and the wider college community.

“We pray together and in solidarity with all who are mourning today. May they rest in peace.”

Several students turned up to pay tribute outside the school today.

David Walsh (18), a fifth year at St Michael’s, said the entire school was in shock over the news.

He said that Ios has been the go-to location for Leaving Cert students for the past number of years, and news of the tragedy spread quickly in student group chats online.

“They went last year as well and they went this year. It’s been kind of the place the last few years like Magaluf.

“I was away when I heard it. It spread around really quickly.

“I wouldn’t have known them personally but you would see them around the corridors.

“You’d know them well to see their face and obviously they’re great lads and it’s really sad news,” he said.

The school encouraged students who want to know more about available supports to contact staff members.

A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman confirmed it is aware of both cases and is providing consular assistance.

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