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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Suicide training urged for gardai by car tragedy mother

Published 01/09/2014 | 02:30

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Elber Twomey
Elber Twomey

A woman who lost her entire family to a suicidal taxi driver in the UK said she was "deeply impressed" by a new Garda College training regime.

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Elber Twomey met with Assistant Commissioner John Twomey who is director of the Garda College in Templemore over her concerns about garda training in relation to handling high-risk and suicidal motorists.

"I outlined some suggestions that I would like to see included in their suicide awareness training. My hope is that this training will be given so that all members of An Garda Siochana will receive it," she said.

"This is the biggest and most significant day for me since I set out on this campaign and I am most grateful to them for inviting me to speak with them on this hugely important issue."

The meeting took place following a personal briefing with Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald who endorsed the Cork woman's road safety campaign.

Mrs Twomey lost her son, Oisin (16 months) and her unborn baby girl, Elber Marie, in a head-on collision in Torquay, Devon on July 6, 2012 after Polish taxi driver, Marek Wojciechowski (26), deliberately rammed their Volkswagen Golf.

Her husband, Con (38), died almost 10 months later from the terrible injuries he sustained in the collision.

The Pole had left a suicide note and was being sought by Devon police as "a high-risk person".

Read more: 'No other family should endure my loss' – death crash widow

Mrs Twomey was briefed by Assistant Commissioner Twomey on the new BA Applied Policing degree which will be offered to Templemore students.

"I was really impressed with the way that in this course, the students learn through working with realistic policing scenarios. To me it shows how practical and 'real life' the course is," she said. "At the meeting, I got a chance to get my thoughts across on the need for more suicide training across the force in general and for garda drivers in particular."

She and her family were on their return journey to Ireland having enjoyed a brief UK holiday when the collision occurred two years ago.

Con had insisted that a UK holiday was safer and preferable to flying overseas to a sun holiday given that Mrs Twomey was five months pregnant with their second child.

Read more: Coroner praises 'courage and dignity' of woman who lost family to actions of suicidal taxi driver

Mr Wojciechowski had left a suicide note and circled a busy dual-carriageway 12 times before ramming the Twomeys' car just seconds after a policeman had tried to pull him over.

Mrs Twomey has devoted her life to a road safety campaign to ensure no other parent endures her loss.

The Devon tragedy occurred after the taxi driver veered at speed into the path of the Twomeys' car after a police patrol car had flashed its light and sounded its siren for him to pull over.

Devon police has since changed their pursuit tactics.

Mrs Twomey now wants gardai to adopt a similar policy - and to dramatically increase the resources available for garda safety training.

"This is a mission very close to my heart. I don't want any other family to end up with my life or indeed the life of poor Marek's wife," she added.

Irish Independent

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