Portadown is reeling from the sudden death, thought to be drugs related, of a 15-year-old girl who became unconscious at a picturesque woodland area in the town.
The PSNI has confirmed they are investigating the girl’s death and “a possible link to drugs”.
The girl, who was said to be from the village of Laurelvale between Portadown and Tandragee, became unconscious in the Corcrain area on Saturday evening. She passed away after being taken by ambulance to Craigavon Area Hospital.
DUP councillor Louise Templeton said she would like to “reach out” to the young people who were in the area at the time and tried to help.
She urged them to come forward with any information that might help the girl’s family.
“My heart goes out to this young girl’s family and they are very much in my thoughts and prayers as they try to deal with this horrendous news,” Ms Templeton said.
“I want to reach out to the young people who were in the area last night and did what they could to help in what were very frightening and traumatic circumstances.
“Please come forward with any information that may help the family as they attempt to reconcile what has happened.”
UUP councillor Julie Flaherty described the girl’s death as a “wake-up call”.
Local PSNI Area Commander, Chief Inspector Joe McMinn said: “A post-mortem examination will be carried out to determine the exact cause of death.”
He said there were “a large number of young people in the Corcrain area when police arrived”.
Police could be seen yesterday searching an area beneath trees about 30 metres off one of the gravel pathways leading through the woodland, the BBC reported.
Some of the search team were reported to be carrying evidence bags while others used scrub-clearing equipment to help scythe through waste-high weeds and nettles. It was also reported that groups of young people gathered at the scene, some clearly distressed and some laying flowers.
Councillor Flaherty said she understands the pain the girl’s mother will be going through, having lost a child herself.
“I lost a child at age two and his anniversary is today (Sunday),” she said.
“I just think to myself there is another mommy out there who is going to be like me. I just cannot get over this. I know what that family have ahead of them and it’s just tragic. We have just got to be more mindful of these young people.
“I know only too well the pain that this family will be facing. My thoughts and prayers are with them today.”
She added: “This will just send shockwaves around the town. It’s terrible, just terrible.
“The whole community will be devastated by this. They will be shocked that this could happen in an area they are trying so hard to care for and provide a safe environment for all to enjoy.
“Doug Beattie MC MLA and I were down just a few weeks ago at an event the community held to celebrate the great work they are doing to regenerate this beautiful area.
“We all need to focus our minds on the young people of our borough, this will be a shock for them too. Please be careful out there, look out for your friends. It is a wake-up call for us all, for community workers, youth workers, for ourselves, everyone because this is happening all across the borough and we are faced with a tragedy now.
“There is a message here for young people too – look out for your friends, stick together.”
DUP Westminster candidate David Simpson said his “prayers are very much with the young girl’s family and friends”.
He added: “I know the community well and I know they will pull together and help where they can.
“To hear of a life ending in such circumstances is horrific for everyone but none more than family and friends. The scene is one of tragedy and devastation.”
Mr Simpson added: “I have been working with statutory agencies to bring about investment in this area to help transform it and to help with youth intervention. I have spoken with the PSNI and youth agencies to ensure we have support services.”