Hairstylist dies after being struck by patrol car: 'We can't believe our bubbly friend is gone'
Colleagues of a young Londonderry hairstylist who died after being hit by a police patrol car say they can't believe they will never see their bright bubbly friend again.
Last Saturday, Rebecca Browne (21) and her cousin crossed the border for a night out in the seaside town of Buncrana, County Donegal.
In the early hours of Sunday Rebecca was making her way back to her overnight accommodation when she was struck by a Garda vehicle. She died at the scene.
At her home in Derry, local priest Fr. Michael McCaughey is one of many who have been comforting Rebecca's family.
"Their their hearts are broken," he says. "You just realise the sense of loss to her parents, to her brother, but also to the whole family circle and indeed to our community."
Fr. McCaughey says Rebecca was loved and respected in her work, in her friendships, and in her family.
"In the midst of the heartache it's only natural that we ask 'Why?', but none of us can answer that question."
For the past four years, Rebecca had worked as a hairdresser at a salon in Derry's Waterside area. Colleagues and customers are distraught.
Salon manager Karen Breslin always drove Rebecca to and from work, and she dropped her home as usual on Saturday evening. Rebecca smiled as she ran into her house to pack for her weekend trip to Donegal.
"It's kind of surreal," Karen says. "Even now I just don't quite believe that she's gone. She always wanted the best for everyone, she wanted everyone to be happy."
Stylist Ashleigh Coyle says the salon is "completely devastated."
She says: "I don't think it has sunk in yet that we've lost her, that I'm never going to see her again. She was such a fun person, always the life and soul of every party."
The fatal collision is being investigated by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, and Rebecca's family is preparing for her funeral which will be held later this week.
Meanwhile, at the salon where Rebecca worked stands an empty chair where a much-loved young woman made so many friends during a life cut tragically short.
Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.