Saturday 10 December 2016

'I couldn’t save my dad that night... no one could' - Young couple tell heartbreaking story in road safety campaign

Published 10/11/2015 | 16:37

A young Mayo man has made a heartfelt plea for pedestrians to wear high visibility jackets, as he was involved in a horrific road traffic collision which resulted in the death of his girlfriend’s father.

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Michael Jackson was travelling to collect a friend in the early hours of the morning on June 10, 2014, when he felt something hit his car. 

Mr Jackson continued on his journey but returned to the scene to ensure everything was alright after noticing damage to his van.

The young man said their lives “were shattered” when he discovered that it was his girlfriend Maggie Bonner’s father Frankie who had died after being struck by his van.

“You wouldn’t dream it, a horror film wouldn’t be as scary,” Michael said.

The young couple have been together for eight years and Maggie believes they are stronger than ever.

“It is difficult. But things like today, it really does help you through it,” she said.  The Mayo woman was speaking at an event ahead of the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, which will be held this Sunday.

“I couldn’t save my dad that night.  Neither could Michael, no one could.  It was meant to happen.  He had no high visibility jacket on him that night, he couldn’t be saved, he was in dark clothes.

“So by doing things like today, we hope to try and save another family, friends and community going through what we have.”

The couple are urging pedestrians and cyclists to use high visibility jackets or reflectable clothing when travelling late at night.

“Myself and Michael have got stronger, we are in this together.  It’s lovely that we can be together, doing something like this because it would be difficult on your own.  So that is one thing you have to be grateful about,” she added.

“If we drive and see somebody without a high visibility jacket, the whole lot flashes back in front of you.  You’re terrified that ‘oh my god, I could have hit them or anything’.”

Just under 40,000 people have been killed in road traffic accidents on the island of Ireland since records began.

This year, 131 people have been killed on our roads since January 1, 30 lives less than the year prior.

But, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe warned that we must not get complacent about delivering the messages about driving dangers to road users, specifically in relation to drink driving.

“We always have to do more,” the Dublin representative said.

“This is an area that at the moment you believe you are getting your message across will lead to a dilution in the level of energy and the level of commitment that is necessary to deal with this.”

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