Irish News

Saturday 26 July 2014

Suicide crash widow's campaign to boost road safety gets support from Varadkar

Ralph Riegel

Published 17/02/2014|02:30

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Elber and Conor Twomey with baby Oisin
Elber and Conor Twomey with baby Oisin
Leo Varadkar

AN IRISH woman who lost her entire family to a suicidal taxi driver in the UK has enlisted the support of Transport Minister Leo Varadkar in her courageous road safety campaign.

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Elber Twomey (37) had a personal meeting with Mr Varadkar and told the Irish Independent that she is determined to ensure no other family suffers her appalling loss.

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

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

Elber's husband, Con (38), died almost 10 months later from the injuries he sustained in the collision.

The courageous young woman said she now believes, from studying Irish road accident reports, that cars have been used by people with suicidal ideation in Ireland.

The teacher said she was "very grateful" that Mr Varadkar agreed to a personal meeting in Cork, arranged by Fine Gael TD Michael Creed, and indicated his support for any measures to enhance Irish road safety.

SYMPATHETIC

"He (Mr Varadkar) was most sympathetic to the enormous loss I have suffered," she said. "In our meeting, I expressed my opinion for the huge need in Ireland for all gardai to be trained appropriately to deal with (such) poor suicidal souls not to mention, as in our story, a suicidal driver.

"The lack of this (training) in the UK cost me my entire family. I explained to the minister that at Baba Oisin's inquest, the kind coroner, Ian Arrow, made a very important point in his closing statement.

"He asked ACPO (UK police supervision body) to review how police officers approach suicidal persons.

"I told Mr Varadkar that I had been in touch with the coroner's office earlier this month and that ACPO are working actively on this. I also highlighted to the minister how alarmed I was on reading the Road Safety Authority (RSA) provisional review of road crashes report for 2013."

Elber said that Mr Varadkar has agreed to seek further research on both suicidal drivers and ways of improving Irish road safety.

Elber's desire to see greater garda training in this area has also received support from TDs Dan Neville, Niall Collins, Michael Moynihan and Jimmy Deenihan, along with suicide support groups like Inspire Ireland, Suicide Aware, 3Ts and Pieta House.

She wants the gardai to mirror Devon and Cornwall Police, which amended its strategy for dealing with high-risk motorists in the wake of the tragedy that claimed her family.

"I don't want any other family to suffer what happened to us. I am grateful for the changes that were made by Devon and Cornwall Police and I am hopeful that the gardai will see the benefits of having similar strategies here," she said.

Irish Independent

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