Emma Spence has been released from hospital following the slurry tank gas tragedy which claimed the life of her two brothers and father who entered the tank in an attempt to save the family dog.
Ulster Rugby star Nevin Spence (22), his brother Graham (30), and their 52-year-old father Noel died after falling into the slurry tank at their farm, on Drumlough Road in Hillsborough, County Down, on Saturday evening.
Emma, the sole survivor of the accident, was treated at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital having inhaled the toxic fumes from the tank.
On Monday, the family revealed that the men died trying to save each other.
In a statement released by the family, via Rev Rodney Stout, senior pastor at Ballynahinch Baptist Church, they said, “The three men were very close to each other in life, and that love was expressed in their final moments trying to help one another.”
The statement also said, “The families of Noel, Graham and Nevin Spence are trying very hard to come to terms with their tragic loss.”
The Irish Independent reported that their father Noel had tried to save the family dog from the tank. His two sons went in to help and all three were overcome by the fumes.
Emma was still conscious when the ambulance arrived.
The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is carrying out a full investigation into how the events unfolded.
Nevin Spence (22) had already become a rugby star in Ulster. A book of condolence was opened at Ulster Rugby’s Ravenhill ground, in Belfast, on Monday.
Ulster Rugby chief executive Shane Logan said the team’s RaboDirect PRO12 game on Friday in Italy against Zebre will be postponed.
Former colleagues at the club were visibly shaken, according to the Irish Examiner’s report.
David Humphreys, director of professional rugby at the club, said he was overwhelmed by the loss. He said Nevin was filled with potential. He also commented on the fact that the star player was loved on and off the rugby field.
He said, “You just need to listen to some of the conversations with our players over the last 24 hours.
“All of us are struggling to come to terms with what has happened.”
Nevin was predicted to have a major international future ahead of him.
Irish sporting greats Brian O’Driscoll and Rory McIlroy have both expressed their condolences at the loss of Nevin Spence.
Ireland rugby captain Brian O'Driscoll said, “Devastating news about Nevin Spence, his dad and brother. What a wonderful talent he was. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."
Golf star Rory McIlroy said, “Just heard the tragic news of Nevin Spence and his family. Makes you cherish every day you have on this Earth."
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said they were deeply saddened by the tragic accident. Also the The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) said the deaths had shocked the entire farming community.