Sunday 11 December 2016

'If this saves one family from going through what we did, it will be worth it' - Grieving family whose son was killed

Ian Begley

Published 27/11/2016 | 16:38

Gillian and Ronan Treacy, inset, Ciaran Treacy, inset right, Finbarr O'Rourke leaving court
Gillian and Ronan Treacy, inset, Ciaran Treacy, inset right, Finbarr O'Rourke leaving court

A grieving mother and father whose four-year-old child was killed by a drunk driver in Co Laois are sharing their devastating loss in the hope that it will save lives.

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Ciaran Treacy was a passenger in his parent’s car when Finbarr O’Rourke, a 41-year-old man who had consumed up to 10 pints of cider crashed his vehicle head-on into them near Ballymorris in 2014.

Gillian and Ronan Treacy are now urging people not to drink and drive in a new Road Safety Authority (RSA) Christmas campaign that describes the impact the tragedy had on their lives.

Speaking on Ray D’Arcy Show, Gillian said: “It was just a normal day, we were getting ready for Easter, and earlier I had left the two boys (Ciaran and his older brother Sean) with my parents in Stradbally – so they had a beautiful day at the woods and the lake.

Little Ciaran Treacy (4) who tragically died after drunk driver Finbarr O’Rourke crashed into his mother Gillian Treacy’s car in Co Laois in April 2014.
Little Ciaran Treacy (4) who tragically died after drunk driver Finbarr O’Rourke crashed into his mother Gillian Treacy’s car in Co Laois in April 2014.

“The last thing before the collision Ciaran just said ‘Mam, are we having pancakes when we get home’, and I said we were, and he just said ‘oh wow Sean, we’re having pancakes’."

Gillian said the tragedy happened “so quickly and yet it felt like slow motion… He came across to my side of the road, and you don’t have time to think.

“There was the smell of smoke, the airbags, both engines crashed in on my legs, the sound, and then just this silence, and that was actually more scary than the noise itself.

“Both boys were screaming, but then Ciaran got quieter and then there was silence, and then Sean said that he thought Ciaran was dead,” she said.

It took emergency services more than an hour to free Gillian from the wreckage. She had broken ankles, a compound fracture in her left leg, a broken pelvis, a broken elbow, and a broken sternum.

Despite this, she was still able to attend Ciaran’s funeral.

The late Ciaran Treacy (L), with his sister Caoimhe and brother Sean
The late Ciaran Treacy (L), with his sister Caoimhe and brother Sean

Her husband Ronan, describes April 17, 2014 as “the worst day of my life”.

Describing Finbarr O’Rourke he said: “He just finished work that day and then went on the rip. He had anything up to 10 pints and then he walked away from the scene. He phoned the friend he had been drinking with twice but he never attempted to ring emergency services.

O’Rourke was initially sentenced to seven and a half years in prison, but it has since been reduced to six on appeal.

In her victim impact statement from the trail of O’Rourke, Gillian said: “Some of my darkest moments have come at night when the children have slept.

Ronan and Gillian Treacy
Ronan and Gillian Treacy

“I’d lie awake at night and want to die and Ronan would hold me and we’d both cry together.

“If this (RSA campaign) saves one family from going through what we have gone through it will be worth it,” she said.

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