Wednesday 28 September 2016

Heartbroken mother Elisha Scannell lost best friend Zoe 'Zo Zo' (8) in horrific road crash

Published 24/04/2015 | 08:20

Zoe Scannell (8) in her communion dress, with her mum Alisha Scannell
Zoe Scannell (8) in her communion dress, with her mum Alisha Scannell

A heartbroken mother revealed she lost her best friend and her “other half” after her eight year old daughter died in an horrific west Cork collision.

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Elisha Scannell’s comments came as Leaving Cert student Ian Lawlor O’Donovan (18) received a two year suspended prison sentence for dangerous driving causing the death of Zoe Scannell (8) last summer.

Lawlor O’Donovan of The Grove, Ardagh, Rosscarbery, Cork pleaded guilty to dangerous driving near Owenahincha Cross, just off the N71 in west Cork, on June 26 2014.

The teen wept throughout the Circuit Criminal Court sentencing hearing.

Zoe Scannell (8) in her first holy communion clothes
Zoe Scannell (8) in her first holy communion clothes
Alisha Scannell, mother of Zoe
Zoe Scannell in her Communion dress

The defendant was an unaccompanied learner driver that day and he lost control of his vehicle near a road junction.

He was using the car, which belonged to his mother, shortly after he had concluded a driving test.

His car veered onto the wrong side of the road and ploughed into the vehicle carrying Elisha Scannell and Zoe, her only child.

Zoe was from Bogmount, Abbeyfeale, Limerick and was on her way home after a family summer holiday in west Cork and Kerry.

Zoe Scannell: died in car accident while on holiday
Zoe Scannell: died in car accident while on holiday
Zoe Scannell (8) in her communion dress, with her mum Alisha Scannell

“He may have become distracted, attempted to correct it but over-corrected and caused the car to go out of control and it crossed on to its incorrect side,” Garda Brendan Cahill said.

The little girl suffered multiple injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene before she could be transferred to Cork University Hospital (CUH).

Judge Sean O’Donnabhain heard that Elisha was seriously injured and had to be transferred to CUH by Air Corps helicopter.

She subsequently spent over two weeks in hospital recovering from her injuries – being specially released for a day so she could attend her little girls funeral in Abbeyfeale.

In a heart-rending victim impact statement, Elisha said her life will now never be the same without her beloved daughter whose nickname was ‘Zo Zo’.

Zoe had only made her Holy Communion a few weeks before the fatal collision and adored both sports and activities.

She was a keen Irish dancer and also played camogie, football and basketball and was also a talented musician.

“Zoe was bursting with energy for life. Taking it easy was not in her vocabulary and I often wonder deep down did she know she only had a short life to cram everything into,” Alisha said.

“She was my best friend and I was hers. Once we had each other nothing else mattered. We were the other half that made each other complete.

"Our life without Zoe now is empty.”

“I don’t like falling asleep at night without her beside me. I hate waking up in the morning to the eerily quiet house. Anything that gives us a moment of joy now is clouded by the loss of our sweet angel.”

“I have thought about suicide many times, so many it scares me. I eat only because I have to do to survive but food is tasteless now. I feel angry, confused, sad, betrayed, guilty and afraid - the list is endless.”

“I also have guilt for surviving while Zoe’s life was ended so abruptly. I have been robbed of a future. Zoe had a huge impact on everyone who knew her,” she added.

Judge O’Donnabhain described it as a tragic case and said the defendant involved had very limited driving experience.

He said the young man had lost control of the car – underlining why learner drivers are required to operate vehicles alongside a more experienced adult motorist.

However, he noted the young man’s early plea, his obvious and genuine remorse and the fact there were no aggravating factors involved such as speed or alcohol.

He imposed a two year suspended sentence and banned him from driving for six years.

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