The heartbroken father of a Northern Ireland man who died after being attacked on the Spanish island of Majorca has opened up about the pain of losing his “best friend”.
Aaron Henderson from Coleraine had been enjoying a holiday with his girlfriend in the popular resort of Magaluf when he was assaulted in the early hours of Friday, April 27.
The 30-year-old – a father of four – suffered serious head injuries and died in hospital a few days later.
His grieving father, Paul Henderson, has told of the “nightmare” his family has endured following the tragedy, and their heart-rending decision to donate Aaron’s organs to others in need.
After getting a phone call informing them that Aaron had been badly injured, Paul and his wife Kim rushed out to the Spanish island to be at his bedside.
He told the News Letter: “Aaron had been standing outside a bar in Magaluf when someone ran over, punched him and ran off.
“A man and a woman saw what happened, they phoned an ambulance and stayed with Aaron until he was taken to hospital.
“He had a small bleed on the side of his skull and was rushed into the operating theatre. When we arrived in hospital he was in intensive care and was coming round.
“I said ‘hello son do you know who I am’, he said ‘daddy’ and squeezed my hand.”
For a brief time it looked as though Aaron was possibly in the clear, but Paul soon got the phone call that every parent dreads.
He added: “On the Sunday morning I got a call at the hotel telling me it was bad news and we had to go to the hospital straight away.
“Aaron had a massive bleed on the brain and there was nothing that could be done for him.
“My world fell apart at that moment.”
Following this devastating news, Aaron’s parents were then faced with one of the most difficult decisions of their lives.
“We sat that night in the hotel room and talked about what we should do and came to the decision to donate his organs,” Paul added.
“It was a hard decision to make, but it gives us some small comfort as we know he is still out there, and someone is happy.
“At least we know he didn’t die in vain.”
Paying tribute to his son, Paul described him as a “true gentleman who will be missed by all who knew him”.
He added: “Aaron wasn’t just my son, he was like a brother and my best friend as well.
“Aaron worked in the family shop since the day he left school and he loved it. People used to call me ‘Del Boy’ and he was ‘Wee Del Boy’.
“He loved meeting people and chatting with them, and everybody loved him.
“We have had so many cards and messages on social media, the support people have shown is unreal.”
Aaron’s heartbroken partner has led tributes to him on social media.
Danielle Baxter took to Facebook to say the 30-year-old had made her “the happiest” she had ever been in her “entire life”.
Meanwhile, a British radio DJ has also paid tribute to Aaron.
Kutski, who has presented a number of shows for BBC Radio One, described the father of four as a “personal friend”, adding: “He was genuinely one of the most fun and entertaining people you could wish to be around.
“My deepest thoughts go out to his partner Danielle, his family, and everyone else who was lucky enough to have known Aaron. Northern Ireland gigs will never be the same.”
Aaron’s grieving family now face an agonising wait to have his body repatriated to Northern Ireland.
“It has been a nightmare trying to get him home,” Paul added.
“The authorities in Spain won’t release his body because there is an ongoing investigation.
“This is just making it even harder for us to cope with. We just want to get him home.”
Paul thanked the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, a Northern Ireland-based charity which has helped hundreds of families from across the island of Ireland whose loved ones have died abroad suddenly.
It was set up by Newry man Colin Bell after his 26-year-old son, Kevin, was killed in a suspected hit-and-run in New York in June 2013.
In the past five years, since the death of their son, the Bells have helped to repatriate the bodies of almost 500 people from all over the world.
Paul said: “Colin calls me every day to keep me updated. He has been an incredible help to us and I can’t thank him enough.”
In a statement to the News Letter, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “Our staff are assisting the family of a British man following his death in Majorca.”