Irish News

Thursday 10 July 2014

Mum who lost family attacks handling of suicidal motorist

* Husband, two children died after taxi driver ploughed into their car

Ralph Riegel and Paul Andrews

Published 03/12/2013|01:00

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‘I lost my everybody,’ Elber Twomey told the inquest

A teacher whose entire family was wiped out by a suicidal taxi driver has attacked UK police for their actions in the lead-up to the tragedy – and pleaded with UK police to review their procedures for dealing with high-risk motorists.

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The revelation of the plea emerged after Devon & Cornwall police objected to Elber Twomey (37) making a personal statement at a Torquay inquest into a horrific collision that claimed four lives including her husband, her son and her unborn daughter. Police counsel said they believed the statement would apportion blame to the police over their handling of the July 6, 2012 tragedy.

Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Twomey, from Meelin, Co Cork, said she did not want any other family to suffer her catastrophic loss.

The north Cork woman said police had been "completely wrong" in how they had handled suicidal taxi driver Marek Wojciechowski (26), claiming their intervention had "panicked" the Pole in the seconds before the tragedy.

"I will always be of the opinion that the manner in which the police dealt with Marek that horrific day was completely wrong," she said.

DISTRAUGHT

"I believe the police officer should have stopped his following and turned off his siren well before the crash barrier ended to avoid any head-on conflict."

"While I don't blame the police officer involved personally for my tragic story, I do blame the police service. I am convinced (they) need to review their handling of how they deal with a missing person known to have left a suicidal note."

Mrs Twomey said she reacted with "absolute horror" to the UK's Independent Police Complaints Commission, which said "no learning outcomes or organisational learning was identified" from the tragedy.

"The lack of this caution has cost me my entire family," she said. "My hope is that the police service will learn from our horrific story . . . that they will put the appropriate policies and training in place on how to deal with a driver who has expressed an intention to commit suicide."

She said she did not blame the distraught taxi driver.

"The poor man was unwell. He was no criminal. He had not robbed a bank or murdered anyone," she said. But Mrs Twomey said the actions of the Pole that day ended her family's "beautiful life".

"Our tragic crash with Marek claimed the lives of our beautiful little man, 'baba' Oisin, and his beautiful unborn sister. If that wasn't tragic enough it also claimed the life of my darling Con on May 3 this year. I lost my everybody," she said.

Mrs Twomey lost her husband, Con (38), her son Oisin (16 months), her unborn baby, Elber Marie, and was left fighting for her own life after Wojciechowski deliberately drove into their car on the last day of their UK holiday.

The Pole, who left a four-page suicide note and had circled a busy dual-carriageway 12 times outside Torquay, drove into the Twomeys' Volkswagen Golf car just seconds after a Devon policeman tried to pull him over.

The police officer did so by activating his flashing lights.

The inquest jury later found the taxi driver had driven deliberately into the Twomeys' car.

Mr Wojciechowski left the suicide note for his wife, Agnieszka, just hours before the tragedy.

Devon police had been alerted to the fact that the former hotel worker was "a high-risk missing person".

CCTV footage showed Wojciechowski making 12 circuits of the Hamelin Way dual carriageway before the Devon constable signalled for him to pull over by flashing his lights.

Seconds later, Wojciechowski ploughed into the Twomeys' car.

Mr Wojciechowski's widow said he couldn't cope after she had asked him for a separation following months of marital problems.

Irish Independent

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