herald

Friday 9 December 2016

Second brother in Portmarnock sewer incident loses fight for life

The scene yesterday. Inset, brothers Steve Harris and Alan Harris
The scene yesterday. Inset, brothers Steve Harris and Alan Harris

The second brother involved in a work accident this week died in hospital this morning.

Steve Harris (34) died in Beaumont hospital this morning at 9am after bravely fighting for his life for two days.

His older brother, Alan (45), died on Wednesday when he was overcome by toxic fumes while working on a sewer in the Dumnigh Wood estate in Portmarnock. Steve entered the sewer and attempted to save his brother’s life before the gases overpowered him too.

READ MORE: 'My heart is shattered' - wife posts emotional tribute to toxic fumes victim

The Harris family have been left reeling with the deaths of the two dads. The pair are survived by their mother Gertrude, four brothers David, Mark, Darren, Derek and Stephen and sister Grainne.

Derek Harris, a brother, paid tribute today to Steve in a Facebook post.

“I’ve been asked to say a few words. Stephen went by many names to everyone that knew him but to Eve, he was Steve, he was everything and to Nathan, he was simply Dad.

“They loved him and he loved them even more back because everything Steve done was always double what you could give.

“If you were fortunate to meet him, then you would have been the recipient of a Stevie hug and you always went away feeling better.

Steve died a hero trying to save his brother Alan and to us he will always be our hero.

From me Steve, you were my best friend and best man. We will love you always. Thoughts are with Tracy, Nicole and Alvin. Steve watch over Eve and Nathan.”

Tracy Glynn Harris, grieving widow of Alan, made an emotional tribute to her “soulmate”, describing him as “one in a million” following his death.

Tracy worked with her husband at his company DrainTech and said her heart had been broken “into a million pieces”.

READ MORE: Robbie Keane pays tribute to late cousin: "May Alan RIP and we continue to pray for Stephen"

She received the devastating news while in Turkey on holidays. Alan was due to join her this weekend. The couple, married 22 years, have two grown-up children, Nicole and Alan junior.

“I’m just devastated,” Tracy said. “Alan was one in a million.

“He worked hard, he ran a small company and that was his life. his family and his work.”

READ MORE: Brothers in sewer accident are cousins of Rep of Ireland skipper Robbie Keane

Ms Harris described how the family of four were very close, and that their children “are more like friends”.

“We did everything together as a family. My son is just after flying in, he works in Dubai, my heart goes out to the two children.

“I don’t know what happened yesterday. I just know that Alan went into the tank and we don’t know what happened after that,” she said.

Ms Harris went on to describe the agonising trip back to Dublin from Turkey.

“I don’t know if Stephen went in with him or went in after him. Twelve hours in five different airports coming home from Turkey to get home. I cried for 12 hours.

“I got the call and I was on the beach in Kusadasi. Alan and the whole family were coming over on Saturday, his brothers were coming over with the children,” she said.

The Harris family grew up in Monasterboice Road, Crumlin in Dublin.

Steve was a keen actor.

He was also set to star in an Irish film due out next year.

The art house comedy is called Thank You Come Again.

Those involved in the film said, “Our cast member and good friend Steve Harris is in our thoughts and prayers today”.

The Facebook page said Steve had been acting since he was 14.

“He started out doing TV and film, but decided to move over to stage. After 10 years of stage he came back to movies and done loads of films. Steve also does a bit of writing and his best experience to date was being able to act alongside his five year old son”.

His heartbroken brother Mark stated that Alan was “a special man”.

In a moving tribute on Facebook, he said: “My heart is broken today about the death of one of my wonderful brothers, Alan Harris, a special man who I looked up to. His achievements in life are too numerous to mention. He will always have a special place in my heart.”

Alan Harris lived in Clonee, and the local soccer club Clonee United paid tribute on social media.

He was a close friend of several club members and they offered “heartfelt condolences” to his family.

A number of investigations into the tragedy are under way.

Alan Harris’s funeral was scheduled to take place tomorrow at St Agnes’s Church, Crumlin at 10am, with the burial taking place at Glasnevin Cemetery.

Tracy Harris is hoping that his beloved ‘Bluebird Dublin Van’ will be the hearse at the funeral.

“I’m seeing the funeral director and I’m hoping that’s going to be his hearse. That’s going to be what’s going to transport him to St Agnes Church in Crumlin,” Tracy said.

Tracy's heart-rending tribute to Alan on Facebook declared: "Tragically yesterday I lost my best friend and soulmate Alan Harris.

"My heart has been shattered into a million pieces yet again."

She thanked everyone who had offered words of kindness at this devastating time for the family.

And she paid tribute to the heroism of Steve who had desperately tried to save the life of his older brother.

Alan was one of a family of six brothers and one sister who grew up in Monasterboice Road in Crumlin in Dublin.

His heartbroken brother Mark stated that Alan was "a special man".

In a moving tribute on Facebook, he said: "My heart is broken today about the death of one of my wonderful brothers, Alan Harris, a special man who I looked up to. His achievements in life are too numerous to mention. He will always have a special place in my heart."

He, too, called on everyone to pray for "another special person, my baby brother Stephen".

Alan Harris lived in Clonee, and the local soccer club Clonee United paid tribute on social media.

He had played for the club and was a close friend of several club members. The club offered "heartfelt condolences" to his family.

Neighbours of the Harris family in Crumlin told the Herald yesterday the hearts of the entire community went out to them.

"There's no answer to what has happened. They are a really lovely family. It is so sad. It's a terrible tragedy. Alan was a lovely man, like his father. Our hearts go out to his mother Gertie and all the family," said a family friend.

A number of investigations into the tragedy are under way.

Alan Harris (45) ran his own drain and sewer maintenance business.

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