Final call with 'happy' Leona Harper before Creeslough petrol station blast gives family comfort

The Mum of a teenage girl killed in the Creeslough petrol station explosion has revealed she phoned her daughter minutes before the devastating blast.

Leona Harper, 14, was in the shop buying ice cream for a sleepover when the explosion happened last October.

Donna Harper told UTV Leona was happy in their final conversation .

“She was having a great time actually," she said.

"I was asking 'What are you at now?' and she said: 'I’m just heading into the shop now,' I said, 'Ok Leona, we’ll chat tonight, I’ll give you a call tonight,' and she said, “Ok bye Mammy.”

Seven minutes later the shop and flats above were destroyed in the explosion.

Leona was one of 10 people killed.

The 10 victims of the Creeslough tragedy Credit: An Garda Siochana/PA

Her Dad Hugh said the fact Leona was having fun in her last moments gives them comfort.

“She was happy. She had a very fulfilled life for a 14 year old and I’m so happy to say she was a very happy little girl right to the last,” he said.

The Harper family are appealing to journalists trawling through their social media posts to stop.

Donna and Hugh say quotes and photographs printed without permission in some newspapers and online stories have added pain to their grief and traumatised Leona’s brothers Anthony and Jamie.

Leona Harper.

Donna is appealing for privacy.

“There has been a lot of stuff that went out there…..so I’m just asking for them to please give us the space that we need and let us grieve for our daughter, especially over Christmas.”

Donna and Hugh describe Leona as compassionate and kind, especially to her friends.

They say her big passions in life were fishing, farming and tractors.

Leona Harper's Mum and Dad, Donna and Hugh

The family wanted to publicly thank the emergency services and first responders in Creeslough for risking their own lives to try and rescue and later recover Leona.

They have also singled out Letterkenny Rugby Club for their support since she died.

Donna says Christmas can never be the same again .

“Christmas in our house was always a happy time because Leona loved Christmas…I don’t think it can ever be the same again. We put a tree up with butterflies on it. A tree for Leona, but it is heart wrenching.”

Hugh and Donna will spend Christmas Day with their two sons. Their first without Leona but they say her spirit is always with them.

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