The Irish rugby community is mourning the tragic death of Nevin Spence, a 22-year-old member of the Ulster squad who was killed along with two other members of his family during a farming accident on Saturday.
According to BBC News, Spence, his 30-year-old brother Graham and their father Noel, 58, died after inhaling slurry gas on the family farm near Hillsborough, County Down.
“This is a very sad day for rugby, Nevin was a rising star for his province and his country,” David Jordan, tournament director of the Pro12 league, said in a statement on the league’s website. “He will leave a lasting legacy with the rugby community in Ireland.”
Authorities say Spence’s father Noel fell into the slurry tank (a special tank which contains animal waste and other biodegradable material that is turned into organic fertilizer) and that Nevin and his brother Graham died while trying to rescue him.
Nevin’s sister Emma also fell into the tank but was rescued before she succumbed to the toxins. She is currently being treated in the hospital, according to Bloomberg.
In a statement, grieving relatives said that the families were trying very hard to come to terms with the loss.
The family 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 family is being supported and comforted by other family members, friends and neighbors.
“Arrangements for a thanksgiving service for the three is currently under way and details will appear in the press in due course.”
Nevin Spence, who played center for Uslter, made his debut with the team against the Ospreys in 2010 and played for the club 42 times. In 2011, he was named as Young Player of the Year at the Irish Rugby Football Union Players’ Association Awards.
“He was well liked by everyone who knew him and his loss will be deeply felt by his teammates and everyone at Ulster Rugby,” said Shane Logan, Chief Executive of Ulster Rugby.