Father’s heartbreaking tribute to autistic son killed on Glenshane Road

Daniel Bradley, 8.
Daniel Bradley, 8.

A little boy with special educational needs who died after being hit by a car on Thursday was “lively, full of fun and popular with all who knew him”.

Daniel Bradley, an eight-year-old boy who had been diagnosed with autism, was struck by the vehicle at the Glenshane Road near Maghera on Thursday evening.

Daniel Bradley

Daniel Bradley

A pupil of Kilronan Special School in Magherafelt, he was the son of well-known singer-songwriter and mental health campaigner James Bradley.

Mr Bradley posted a heartbreaking video to social media website Facebook yesterday morning of little Daniel, who had ‘non-verbal autism’, singing along with his father to the Coldplay song ‘Fix You’.

James Bradley wrote: “Fly high ‘Dan the Man’. ‘Till we meet again.”

It is not the first time Mr Bradley has been forced to cope with tragedy.

Daniel Bradley

Daniel Bradley

His brother, Alex, took his own life at the age of 19.

In an interview with the News Letter last year, James Bradley described how he used his music to cope with his son’s diagnosis and the grief of having lost a brother to suicide.

He spoke of how he had to fight for his son’s diagnosis and his campaign for “acceptance” of those with autism.

“It was a matter of constantly ringing paediatricians and chasing everything up,” he said. “Finally on Daniel’s third birthday in May 2013, he finally received his formal diagnosis of non-verbal autism.

“It was a very hard day, and whilst (Daniel’s Mum) Janice took it as a good thing as now we could move forward, it suddenly really hit home for me.”

He continued: “Whilst Janice accepted it straight away, I couldn’t, I had to go to counselling and Alex’s suicide all came to the front again.”

Little Daniel’s school were amongst those to pay tribute to him following his tragic death on Thursday.

In a statement, Kilronan School said: “Daniel was a much loved member of our school community. He was lively, full of fun and popular with all who knew him. We extend our deepest sympathy to his parents, sisters, grandparents and wider family circle at this very sad time and we ask that you would keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”

The GAA club Watty Graham’s also paid tribute, saying: “Our community lost a very special wee boy last night. Our thoughts and prayers go to Daniel Bradley’s parents James and Janice, his sisters Lucy, Emily, Katie, his grandparents and wider family circle at this terrible time.”

SDLP MLA for Mid Ulster Patsy McGlone expressed condolences for the boy’s family: “My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of this young boy as they come to terms with this terrible loss.”

He continued: “Most of us cannot begin to imagine what the family are feeling upon receiving this devastating news.”

Mr McGlone added: “I am confident the local community will rally to support them at this deeply sad time.”

A spokesperson for Ballinderry Shamrocks GAC said: “The club would like to express their deepest sympathy to the parents, sisters, family circle, community and Watty Grahams GAC Glen on the tragic and untimely death of little Daniel Bradley.

“At sorrowful times like this there are no words of comfort but our thoughts, prayers and support are with the entire community.”

The spokesperson added: “RIP little angel. Mary Queen Of The Gael pray for him.”

A PSNI spokesperson said the collision happened close to the entrance of a service station on the Glenshane Road, Maghera, at around 8pm.

Inspector Andy Harvison said: “We are investigating the circumstances of the collision and would like to hear from witnesses or anyone who may have captured dashcam footage. Please call 101, quoting reference number 1212 20/09/18.”