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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Driver sorry for crash that killed 'hero' teacher

Conor Kane

Published 14/02/2014 | 02:30

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Frans Coenraad
Alice Strain. Picture: Pat Crowley
Alice Strain. Picture: Pat Crowley

A DUTCHman who admitted that his driving caused the death of an "inspirational" teacher has put flowers at the scene of the fatal crash and met with the victim's family.

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Alice Strain (45) of Dungarvan, Co Waterford, was fatally injured when the car being driven by her fiance Pat Crowley collided with a van.

The van had veered on to the wrong side of the road in a "momentary lapse", Waterford Circuit Court was told.

The driver of the van Frans Coenraad (44) with an address at Meeuewenstraat, Goor, The Netherlands, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, causing the death of Ms Strain and serious bodily harm to Mr Crowley.

He was fined €1,000 and ordered to pay €4,000 to the St Vincent de Paul charity after Ms Strain's sisters indicated, via prosecutor Noel Whelan, that they had "no discomfort" with such a penalty. Judge Pauline Codd also disqualified Mr Coenraad from driving for four years.

In their victim impact statement, Ms Strain's sisters said their family and Pat Crowley had been "devastated" by the tragedy last April.

Ms Strain taught English and religion at the Presentation College in Clonmel and had completed a degree in counselling. She also read regularly in her local church.

"She was truly a gentle soul, an angel that touched so many," they said, recalling how she would write "inspirational" cards and letters to friends and family.

Some of the girls taught by Ms Strain released a charity single in her memory late last year called 'My Hero' in aid of the St Vincent de Paul, and it reached number one in the iTunes chart.

"This song is about an ordinary teacher who was extraordinarily human and kind to her students. In an age where many heroes from the past and present have fallen from grace, this song reminds there are still heroes out there in schools and homes on ordinary streets."

The court heard that there was no drink or drugs involved at the time of the crash and Coenraad wasn't speeding.

In a letter read out in court, the accused said: "Not a day passes that I do not relive the accident ... I hope that you understand that it was an unfortunate accident and that I never meant it to happen."

Judge Codd said it was an "unusual case" and that Coenraad "made a momentary error of judgement".

Irish Independent

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