Police investigation on drugs link continues as tragic teenager named

Caitlin Shortland.
Caitlin Shortland.

The teenager who died at the weekend in Portadown has been named locally.

She was 15-year-old Caitlin Shortland from the Laurelvale area.

The PSNI has confirmed they are investigating the girl’s death and “a possible link to drugs”.

The girl became unconscious in the Corcrain area on Saturday evening. She passed away after being taken by ambulance to Craigavon Area Hospital.

Local PSNI Area Commander, Chief Inspector Joe McMinn said: “A post-mortem examination will be carried out to determine the exact cause of death.”

He said there were “a large number of young people in the Corcrain area when police arrived”.

Independent Councillor Paul Berry passed on his sympathies to the girl’s family: “It was with real shock and sadness to learn of the tragic and untimely death of Caitlin over the weekend.

“It was even more shocking when I learned that it was a local girl from our community in Laurelvale.

“As a local resident of Laurelvale and Councillor I wish to pass on my deep condolences to Caitlin’s family and assure them of our prayers and support for them at this very sad time of loss.

“I have been speaking to parents this morning at the local school and everyone is in shock and heartbroken for the family.

“We also think of Caitlin’s close friends at this time and every support and counselling must to given to enable them to deal with Caitlin’s tragic death.

“I would appeal to anyone with information to pass it onto the PSNI as soon as possible.”

DUP councillor Louise Templeton said she would like to “reach out” to the young people who were in the area at the time and tried to help.

She urged them to come forward with any information that might help the girl’s family.

“My heart goes out to this young girl’s family and they are very much in my thoughts and prayers as they try to deal with this horrendous news,” Ms Templeton said.

“I want to reach out to the young people who were in the area last night and did what they could to help in what were very frightening and traumatic circumstances.

“Please come forward with any information that may help the family as they attempt to reconcile what has happened.”

UUP councillor Julie Flaherty described the girl’s death as a “wake-up call”.

Councillor Flaherty said she understands the pain the girl’s mother will be going through, having lost a child herself.

“I lost a child at age two and his anniversary is today (Sunday),” she said.

“I just think to myself there is another mommy out there who is going to be like me. I just cannot get over this. I know what that family have ahead of them and it’s just tragic. We have just got to be more mindful of these young people.

“I know only too well the pain that this family will be facing. My thoughts and prayers are with them today.”

She added: “This will just send shockwaves around the town. It’s terrible, just terrible.

“The whole community will be devastated by this. They will be shocked that this could happen in an area they are trying so hard to care for and provide a safe environment for all to enjoy.

“Doug Beattie MC MLA and I were down just a few weeks ago at an event the community held to celebrate the great work they are doing to regenerate this beautiful area.

“We all need to focus our minds on the young people of our borough, this will be a shock for them too. Please be careful out there, look out for your friends. It is a wake-up call for us all, for community workers, youth workers, for ourselves, everyone because this is happening all across the borough and we are faced with a tragedy now.

“There is a message here for young people too – look out for your friends, stick together.”

DUP Westminster candidate David Simpson said his “prayers are very much with the young girl’s family and friends”.

He added: “I know the community well and I know they will pull together and help where they can.

“To hear of a life ending in such circumstances is horrific for everyone but none more than family and friends. The scene is one of tragedy and devastation.”

Mr Simpson added: “I have been working with statutory agencies to bring about investment in this area to help transform it and to help with youth intervention. I have spoken with the PSNI and youth agencies to ensure we have support services.”