Thursday 21 September 2017

'I've learned to live with death' - Widow of well-known Irish singer gives heartbreaking interview about husband's fatal road crash

Colin Vearncombe was driving to the airport in January last year when he was killed in a car crash

Camilla Grieshal and her late husband Colin Vearncombe, together with their three kids Photo: Ray D'Arcy Show
Camilla Grieshal and her late husband Colin Vearncombe, together with their three kids Photo: Ray D'Arcy Show
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

The widow of well-known Irish singer Colin Vearncombe has said that moving to Ireland was "the best decision we ever made" and praised how fans and people in the community helped her deal with Colin's death.

Camilla Grieshal lost her husband on January 27 last year following a fatal car crash.

Colin Vearncombe was best known for singles Sweetest Smile and Wonderful Life (Red Grape Music/Gisli Snaer)
Colin Vearncombe was best known for singles Sweetest Smile and Wonderful Life (Red Grape Music/Gisli Snaer)

The couple had three children together and Camilla gave a heartbreaking interview about how her family are coping after Colin's death.

Camilla, who is originally from Sweden, moved to West Cork with Colin and spoke about how the community in Schull rallied around her.

She recalled the moment she saw Colin in hospital, saying "there wasn't a scratch on him."

The mother-of-three was in Dublin when she received a phone call from gardai notifying her that Colin had been in a serious accident.

"A strange phone number rang me while I was sleeping. I thought it was a sales phone call or someone trying to sell me something. It rang again and it was a guard. He told me that Colin had an accident," she told the Ray D'arcy Show on RTE Radio 1.

"A friend came with me in the car and it was probably the most horrific journey I ever made.

"Mostly I was just trying to stay focused on the driving and getting there safely and trying to stay calm, as much as I could."

Colin had been travelling to the airport to catch an early morning flight to Scotland.

The singer, who had a worldwide hit with "Wonderful Life", was meeting up with pals in Edinburgh.

"He wasn't really a morning person. He was very excited about his trip to Edinburgh to have a writing week with Gary Clark, who wrote all the music for Sing Street," she said.

In a bizarre twist of fate, the pilot of the flight that Colin was meant to board arrived at the scene for his final moments and subsequently wrote Camilla a very moving poem.

She spoke about the "horrible" experience of waiting in the hospital.

"You sit in the waiting room and more and more people come in with disasters. It's a very traumatic place to be.

"He was in a deep coma from when they found him. He never came out of it. It was a shearing injury that you couldn't really see. All the little blood vessels [in his brain] were swollen.

"There wasn't a scratch on him, apart from his ear. His fingers were in a kind of a brace. He looked really well and calm and comfortable."

Camilla and Colin's family came to the decision to switch off his life-support machine when they learned how extensive his brain injuries were.

"When the last moments came, all you want to do is put the machine back on. He couldn't breathe by himself and there was no chance that he could have lived a life where he would have known any of us any more or done anything for himself," she explained.

"In Sweden, we have a month before someone gets buried. You don't have a wake or anything. I was scared of my loved ones dying. I'm grateful that I've lived here [Ireland] so long and I've learned to live with death because it is part of life."

Camilla was speaking ahead of a documentary airing on RTÉ 1 tonight at 9.35pm.

"After the Crash" focuses on families who have lost their loved ones on Ireland's roads over the past twelve months.

Last year, 188 people lost their lives on Ireland's roads.

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