TRIBUTES have poured in for a “hugely popular” Southampton dad who was killed in a road accident in the Caribbean.
Quinton Garrathy died after being struck by a car on the island of St Lucia on Sunday.
His wife, family and dozens of friends have paid tribute to the 38-year-old, who had recently celebrated the birth of his first child and his first wedding anniversary.
The former Gregg School and St Peter Symonds College student from Bassett was on the island having flown there in his work as a senior cabin crew member for Virgin Atlantic.
He had been with the airline for 15 years, and recently celebrated a promotion to cabin service supervisor.
His parents Cherrill and Doug said he had tried to swap his flight to the Caribbean on Friday as he did not want to be away on a long trip.
But he left having eaten a last dinner with them, his younger brother Ash and his three-month-old daughter Olivia-Rae on Thursday.
On Saturday night, he and the other crew members ate and had drinks at the hotel at the Royal St Lucia resort in Rodney Bay where they were staying until about 11pm, when four of them, including Mr Garrathy, left for the island’s capital, Castries.
Quinton left the other three, and took a minibus back to the hotel. But for reasons not known by his family, he got out of the vehicle early, at Rodney Bay Marina, where the accident happened.
He was hit by a black Hyundai SUV on the road at about 1.38am, and pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver, an 18-year-old man, was arrested and taken in for questioning by police, before being released pending the results of a post-mortem.
Investigations are continuing.
Quinton married his wife and fellow Virgin Atlantic crew member Naomi, 34, last year in Las Vegas, after the pair met while on a flight to Boston in 2007.
Paying tribute last night, she told the Daily Echo: “He was loved by everyone. He was just a true gent to everyone, he was jovial and always laughing.
“We did everything together, we enjoyed travelling, especially to Cape Town where we went every year.”
She added: “We were inseparable – we were soul mates.
“He was a fantastic dad to Olivia-Rae and she looks so much like him. Devastation isn’t the word.
“At the moment I just don’t know how I am going to get over this. And Olivia-Rae has lost her loving father.”
Speaking at their home in Chilworth, his parents described Bristol University graduate Mr Garrathy as “hugely popular”.
His dad, Doug, 68, said: “I can’t believe the number of friends he had – it was half of Southampton.
“He was our son, and it feels like a piece has been ripped out of you. I feel sorry for Ash, as he doesn’t have his older brother.”
Mum Cherrill, 60, added: “He was so looking forward to life after Olivia-Rae was born and they bought their house.
“He had a very fulfilled life – he was loving and thoughtful and there wasn’t a malicious bone in his body.”
She added: “You can’t describe the shock when someone comes and tells you that.
“It’s your worst nightmare, you just never think you are going to lose your child before you go. I can’t comprehend it.”
Quinton’s former head teacher at Gregg School and family friend Roger Hart said: “He was a lovely lad, very popular and a hard worker and involved in lots of things at the school, like drama.
“There is still a picture of him in a production up in the school. It’s just terrible news, so sad.”
A spokesman for Virgin Atlantic said: “This is a very difficult time for the crew member’s family and our heartfelt condolences go out to all who knew him.
“Quinton will be missed by all his friends and colleagues at Virgin Atlantic who are deeply saddened by this news.”
Dozens of his friends posted tribute messages on social networking site Facebook, with pals describing him as a “wonderful man”, a “legend” and an “amazing guy who would be missed by everyone”.