A heartbroken Dungannon mum has praised the “amazing community spirit” following the discovery of her son’s body on Monday afternoon.
Matthew McCallan’s body was discovered during searches in Fintona on Monday morning with police treating his death as unexplained at this stage.
The 15-year-old’s mother, Frances McCallan, took to social media in the aftermath of a difficult 24 hours for the family.
“To all the wonderful people who came out to help look for my beautiful son you were amazing the community spirt was unbelievable, I can’t thank you all enough,” she wrote.
“He is now an angel in heaven and is going to be miss so much by his mummy, daddy and loving family sleep tight my darling x.”
St Patrick’s College in Dungannon, where Matthew was a Year 12 pupil, paid tribute to “a young man full of potential.”
“We are so saddened by the tragic and untimely passing of our Year 12 student, Matthew McCallan,” they wrote.
“Today brought the worst possible outcome for the parents, family, friends and our school community – to have lost Matthew so tragically, we are just devastated.
“Matthew was a quiet boy, not overly confident- a young man still growing into his skin. He had a slow smile, that spread and lit up his face, then the twinkle hit his eyes. He was a young person who loved the practicalities of learning – opting to study construction, engineering and road traffic studies.
“He enjoyed nothing better than being in the workshop getting the chance to develop his skills.
“For Christmas his father had only just bought him a toolbox – he would have so loved that.
“We have not just lost a member of our school community – the world has lost a young man full of potential, ready and eager to start out on his journey of life and work.
“Our thoughts are with Matthew’s mummy Frances and his daddy Peter, he was the apple of their eye.
“They need our prayers now to face the days ahead. His family have lost a grandchild, a nephew, a cousin, his friends have lost a loyal, witty companion, who was supposed to be with them for so much longer.
“As a school community we are here to offer support. Our school Chaplain, Counselling services and the EA Critical Incident Management Team will be available from tomorrow and in the coming days as necessary for our students and staff.
“May Matthew’s gentle soul rest in eternal peace. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.”
Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill, who hails from the Mid Ulster area, tweeted: “My thoughts and prayers are with the family of young Matthew McCallan this evening.
“Heartbreaking and unimaginable news for his mummy, daddy and wider family and friends circle. Sending you all our love.”
The 15-year-old from Dungannon was last seen at around 1.20am on Sunday in the Co Tyrone village where he had attended a social event in the Ecclesville Centre.
His body was discovered approximately two miles from the venue shortly before midday today.
A police spokesperson said: “Detectives in the Criminal Investigation Department are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of [Matthew McCallan] following the discovery of a body in the Fintona area shortly before 12noon on Monday.
“We would appeal for anyone with information to come forward. Matthew was last seen at approximately 1.20 am in the Ecclesville Centre, Fintona, and we are keen to establish his movements after this time. I would appeal to anyone who saw the teenager or anyone who has CCTV or dashcam footage, to contact police on 101, quoting reference number 319 of 04/12/22.
“Police received a report of a missing person shortly after 3.30am on Sunday, December 4 when Matthew did not arrive home after attending an event in Fintona on Saturday night.