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NEEDLESS LOSS; TEARS FOR AEROSOL DEATH GIRL.

Byline: DARREN BOYLE in Dungarvan

A FUNERAL priest yesterday warned youngsters to learn from a teenager who died after inhaling an aerosol.

Witnesses said 14-year-old Michelle Bray had been sniffing from a can of deodorant shortly before the tragedy near her home in Dungarvan, Co Waterford.

Hundreds of teens stood silently as Fr Paul Waldron of St Mary's Parish Church gave his homily in the fishing village.

Friends and relatives supported Michelle's mother Breda, brothers John and Kevin as well as sisters Leah and Kim.

Urging young people to learn from Michelle's death, Fr Waldron said: "Our society has changed much recently. It is far harder to grow up nowadays.

"There is much confusion and temptation - a needless loss of life.

"But maybe the people who are creating this society today can ask themselves the questions.

"Maybe they don't like what's being created today. There are a lot of young people in the church and a lot of you were affected by Michelle's death.

"There are a lot of girls from different schools and young people as well. I would ask you to learn from Michelle's death as you come to mourn her.

"As you come today to pray for her, look to the future and be positive because there is always help."

Describing Michelle as "a very happy person", he added her life had touched many people.

During the emotional service songs from Westlife and other bands were played.

Fr Waldron told the congregation that everyone at the church was full of shock, grief and sadness.

Gardai investigating Michelle's death on Sunday evening described it as a "tragic accident".

The teenager was with a group of friends near a filling station in the fishing village.

After she collapsed, her friends bundled her into a car and drove her home where an ambulance was called. The efforts of onlookers and paramedics to revive her failed and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

A postmortem conducted at Waterford Regional Hospital found she died from solvent inhalation.

Shocked family members were too upset to speak last night.

But local councillor Michael O'Riordan said the entire community was devastated.

He added: "It's such a tragedy for someone so young to die in such horrific circumstances.

"Her uncle Tom worked with me and he was a gentleman, a very quiet and shy man.

"The whole community is devastated that a young person would die in such tragic circumstances."

Fr Waldron told mourners their attendance would be of great comfort to the Bray family.

He said that at times like these it was impossible to find the right things to say to a grieving family, but they would be able to gain strength from the numbers of people who showed their respects.

He added: "These are difficult days. But together let us support each other."

Gardai want anyone with information on the incident to contact them on 058 48600.

'It is much harder to grow up nowadays with so mu ch confusion & temptation'

- FR PAUL WALDRON

CAPTION(S):

TRAGIC: A wreath to their sister from Michelle's family, left, as relatives and friends follow her hearse' FAREWELL: Michelle Bray is buried in Dungarvan yesterday
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 25, 2007
Words:529
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