Tragic Portadown teen Caitlin had ‘zest for life’ says principal

Caitlin Shortland was a beautiful wee girl said youth worker Campbell Best
Caitlin Shortland was a beautiful wee girl said youth worker Campbell Best

The young girl who died suddenly in Portadown in a suspected drug-related incident has been described as a “vibrant young person” with “a zest for life”.

Named locally as Caitlin Shortland, the PSNI said one line of inquiry into the girl’s death was “a possible link to drugs”.

The girl became unconscious in a picturesque woodland in the Corcrain area of Portadown on Saturday evening and passed away after being taken by ambulance to Craigavon Area Hospital.

Police said that a post-mortem examination has now taken place but that they are awaiting the results of “further testing”.

Dr Paula Downing, principal of Craigavon Senior High School where Caitlin was a pupil, described her as “a vibrant young person with a real zest for life who was popular with peers and staff alike”.

Dr Downing added: “On behalf of the school community I would like to extend deepest sympathy to her family and friends and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this very difficult time as they try to come to terms with their terrible loss.”

She said “specialist support” is available for both pupils and staff at the school.

Campbell Best, an area youth worker with Portadown Elim Church, said he spoke with Caitlin just 24 hours before she lost her life.

He said: “I met her on Friday night. My first impression was that she was a beautiful wee girl who was just absolutely fantastic. I went over and spoke with her, and explained I was there from Y-Zone and that I was doing a pop-up drop-in centre with the police. She told me her name and we had a bit of banter.

“I invited her into the drop-in centre and she went in with a group of around 10 other young people.

“There were some young people there who shared some life stories and we were able to give some help.

“She wasn’t part of that discussion but she did come across to me as a lovely wee girl, a really nice person, who was very bubbly. She had a real infectious smile.

“She had her whole life ahead of her. It’s so tragic. I can’t emphasise how devastating this is, especially for the family, and I want to pass on my thoughts and prayers for them.”

The girl’s friends took to social media to express their shock.

“We love you Caitlin. Really dont know what i will do without you,” one wrote.

Another said: “Can’t believe you are gone. You were way too young to be taken but God takes the most important.

“I just wish we could turn back the times. I wish I had taken a lot more photos. You will always be in our hearts.

“You will never be forgotten, we love you.”