Saturday 25 March 2017

'I wake every day to a nightmare - a real nightmare' - Devastated dad who lost wife and daughter in horrific road tragedy demands crackdown on L-drivers

The funeral of daughter and mother Louise and Geraldine Clancy at St Martin’s Church,
Kilworth, Co Cork
The funeral of daughter and mother Louise and Geraldine Clancy at St Martin’s Church, Kilworth, Co Cork
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A man who lost his wife and daughter in a horrific road tragedy has demanded a crackdown on learner motorists who drive without being accompanied by a fully qualified driver.

Father-of-three Noel Clancy lost his wife Geraldine and daughter Louise when they drowned in a flooded ditch after their car was struck by learner driver Susan Gleeson (21), who had lost control of her vehicle.

Noel Clancy at court in Cork Picture: Cork Courts Ltd
Noel Clancy at court in Cork Picture: Cork Courts Ltd

Mr Clancy's plea was endorsed by road safety group Parc, founded by Susan Gray, whose husband Stephen died in a collision with an unaccompanied learner driver 12 years ago.

Parc said it has dealt with seven cases of road fatalities from collisions involving learner drivers in just the past five months.

Mr Clancy said: "I think it is important to reflect on the question, on any given day, (of) how many learner drivers are on the roads of Ireland unaccompanied.

"I am calling on the minister to implement legislation so that allowing one's car to be driven by an unaccompanied learner driver is an offence and would make both the car owner and driver equally accountable in law.

Louise Clancy
Louise Clancy

"Our lives are destroyed, our family torn apart, our hearts are broken and, at this time, in my broken heart I cannot find the strength to forgive.

"I was married to Geraldine for 10,705 days and I would be happy to trade a lot of those days for just one minute to say goodbye," he said.

Mr Clancy said last Christmas, instead of hosting a festive family gathering, he found himself organising two funerals.

He said he wept as he knelt between the coffins of his wife and daughter at Ronayne's Funeral Home in Fermoy, Co Cork.

Geraldine Clancy
Geraldine Clancy

"I kissed her (Geraldine's) lips - (they were) stone cold.

"I thanked her for the life she shared with me and I asked her to mind Louise. As if she needed asking.

"Louise was a huge fan (of Bob Dylan). The singers sang 'Blowin' in the Wind' (at the funeral).

"The words might well be the story of road collisions in Ireland. How many deaths will it take to know that too many people have died (on our roads)?

Susan Gleeson at court Photo: Cork Courts Limited
Susan Gleeson at court Photo: Cork Courts Limited

"The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.

"Most people wake from a nightmare in the morning. But I wake every day to a nightmare - a real nightmare. If I lost my past with Geraldine, I also lost the future with Louise.

"My wife and my daughter were lying in body bags on that cold, hard road...God almighty, any sentence this court will impose will pale into insignificance compared to the life sentence my family has been handed."

Irish Independent

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