Published Sunday, 16 September 2012
Nevin Spence, pictured in February 2012, as Ulster's clash against the Dragons (© Pacemaker)
The 22-year-old died when he, his 58-year-old father Noel, 30-year-old brother Graham and sister, fell into the pit on their family farm in the Drumlough Road area on Saturday.
Nevin rose to prominence as part of the Ulster Rugby squad and was set to become a star in Ireland's international rugby scene.
He made his debut for Ulster against the Ospreys in 2010 and represented the team on 42 occasions.
The young centre was one of Ulster's stand-out performers last season as they reached the European Heineken cup final.
In a statement, the club said: "Nevin's death at the age of just 22 has shocked the rugby community."
Ulster Rugby said Nevin was "a gifted young professional rugby player with an extremely bright future in the game."
Shane Logan, Chief Executive of Ulster Rugby, added: "He will be sorely missed and the thoughts of everyone involved in the game are with his family at this time."
Nevin was a wonderful player but also a wonderful person. He was well liked by everyone who knew him and his loss will be deeply felt by his teammates and everyone at Ulster Rugby.
Earlier Nevin's management company posted a statement on his official Facebook page to confirm news of his death.
Cornerflag Management wrote: "It was with great sadness and deep regret that we learned of the sudden and tragic passing of Nevin, his father Noel and brother Graham in an accident on their family farm on Saturday afternoon.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Spence family at this extremely sad time."
The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said it responded to a 999 call at about 6.15pm. It said it immediately sent three rapid response paramedics, four accident and emergency vehicles and an ambulance service doctor to the scene.
The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and police also attended.
All four were pulled out of the tank after a lengthy rescue operation.
Two men died at the scene, while another was taken to Lagan Valley Hospital for treatment and later died from his injuries.
Nevin's sister was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for treatment for the inhalation of fumes.
Nevin played his last rugby game a day before the tragedy as Ulster Ravens took on Munster A at Deramore Park on Friday afternoon.
First Minister Peter Robinson paid tribute on Twitter, writing: "Deeply saddened to hear of the tragedy in Hillsborough this evening. My thoughts and prayers are with family at this time of devastation."
Local DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said: "This tragedy has left the community numb."
"The news has been devastating for many people who know the Spence family, including of course Nevin who played for Ulster," Mr Donaldson told UTV. "His family and the local community were very proud of his achievement."
Nevin's talent was recognised in 2011 when he was named Young Player of the Year at the Irish Rugby Football Union Players' Association Awards.
Nevin's teammates, fellow rugby players and sporting stars also expressed their shock as news emerged of the tragedy.