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Gone but never forgotten - first anniversary of Pulham crash which killed three teenagers to be marked today

PUBLISHED: 05:00 05 April 2018 | UPDATED: 20:34 05 April 2018

From left, Kyle Warren, Dominic O'Neill and Billy Hines, who died in a road crash in Pulham Market. Picture: WARREN, O'NEILL AND HINES FAMILIES

From left, Kyle Warren, Dominic O'Neill and Billy Hines, who died in a road crash in Pulham Market. Picture: WARREN, O'NEILL AND HINES FAMILIES

WARREN, O'NEILL AND HINES FAMILIES

It was the day when the lives of those closest to them were transformed forever.

The site of the fatal accident of the three teenagers, Kyle Warren, Billy Hines and Dominic O'Neill at Pulham Market. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe site of the fatal accident of the three teenagers, Kyle Warren, Billy Hines and Dominic O'Neill at Pulham Market. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

But even though a devastating crash exactly a year ago today robbed teenagers Kyle Warren, Dominic O’Neill and Billy Hines of a life of promise, family and friends they are determined to ensure their memory will always live on.

For many, it seems scarcely possible that a year has passed since the black Ford Ka they were travelling in came off the road and hit a tree in Pulham Market, killing all three teenagers. They were pronounced dead at 12.17am on April 6.

At times, their families did not know how they would survive without three boys who had been the rocks in their lives, with Dominic’s mother Davina O’Neill saying: “I don’t know how to have a life without Dominic.”

They have gone through tears, pain and grief which few can imagine, with Mrs O’Neill adding: “I don’t know if I will ever get over it. He was the centre of my world.

“The pain is still so raw. I miss him every second of every day. All of the boys were loved by their friends and family and are very much missed.”

The B1134 Tivetshall road, Pulham Market after the accident. Picture: NICK BUTCHERThe B1134 Tivetshall road, Pulham Market after the accident. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

But it is the breathtaking levels of support from the teenagers’ friends and amazing community spirit which has made all of the difference, with Mrs O’Neill saying: “They all changed on that day. They went from being teenagers to being young men and women.”

Never more will that community spirit be on show more than this week, with many of the teenagers’ friends today travelling to Southwold Pier - which Dominic and his mother regarded as their special place - to mark the first anniversary.

A memorial plaque has been placed on the pier, where Dominic spent so many of his teenage years, by which friends and family will gather to share poignant memories one year on.

And on Sunday, hundreds of people will gather once again at Morrisons car park in Diss for a repeat of last year’s emotional memorial car run to Great Yarmouth.

A candle lit at St John the Baptist Church in Harleston after the accident. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTHA candle lit at St John the Baptist Church in Harleston after the accident. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

The convoy, supported by police, is designed to mark the teenagers’ love and interest in cars, with friends last year driving the car 16-year-old Billy Hines had planned to learn to drive in along the route.

“To me, it feels like it was only a second ago,” said Mrs O’Neill of last year’s crash, who vividly recounted how two officers knocked on her door at 2.30am to give her the news no parent wants to hear.

Just a couple of hours earlier, when 18-year-old Dominic had told her he was going out to ride in his friend Kyle’s new car, she had said: “He will be careful, won’t he?”

She said being told the news was a “horrendous shock”, adding: “It was like someone had got a big plank of wood and hit me in the chest.”

Funeral of Kyle Warren at St John The Baptist Church, Harleston.

Picture: NICK BUTCHERFuneral of Kyle Warren at St John The Baptist Church, Harleston. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Asked how she had coped since the crash, she said: “I think it’s just from having the support in my community.

“It’s just having people who you know you can knock on their door, say you’re not coping today and them not questioning why you’re having a bad day.

“My next door neighbour will frequently knock on the door and sometimes, that’s all you need – knowing that people care.”

Helen Orford, mother of 17-year-old Kyle, said: “I still expect him to walk through the door or to get a phone call and text message.

Kyle's mum Helen Orford at a memorial football match for Dominic O'Neill, Kyle Warren and Billy Hines in Diss. Picture: ANTONY KELLYKyle's mum Helen Orford at a memorial football match for Dominic O'Neill, Kyle Warren and Billy Hines in Diss. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“He has left a massive gap in our lives. He is missed in everything we do. He was loving, caring and supportive to all his family and friends.

“I hope they always remember him. There isn’t a day that goes by when we don’t think about him or miss him.”

She also said the community support – which included the trio’s former schools playing a memorial football match and a lantern parade less than 24 hours after their deaths – had helped her cope.

“It’s amazing that everyone still does the things they are,” she said.

“I am very grateful. I obviously don’t want him to be forgotten.”

Ms Orford will mark the anniversary by laying a specially-made spring wreath next to Kyle’s ashes.

Mrs O’Neill also visited the scene of the crash in Tivetshall Road, Pulham Market on Easter Sunday to help tidy up the huge shrine of decorations and flowers that has adorned the site since last year.

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