independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Teacher whose family were killed by suicidal taxi driver pleads for police review

PIC: APEX 02/12/2013
Pictured: Elber Twomey from Cork, Ireland, reads a statement to the press following the conclusion of an inquest in Devon which heard details of a head-on collision involving a suicidal taxi driver in which he and members of Mrs Twomey's family died.
The collision claimed the lives of Mrs Twomey's husband Con and their toddler son Oisin. The couple's unborn daughter was also killed whilst Mrs Twomey was left with serious head injuries.
The collision happened on 6 July last year on Hamelin Way in Torquay.
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Elber Twomey from Cork, Ireland, reads a statement to the press following the conclusion of an inquest in Devon which heard details of a head-on collision involving a suicidal taxi driver in which he and members of Mrs Twomey's family died.

AN IRISH teacher whose entire family was wiped out by a suicidal taxi driver has pleaded with UK police to review their procedures for dealing with high risk motorists.

The revelation came as Devon & Cornwall police objected to Elber Twomey (37) making a personal statement at a Torquay inquest into an horrific collision which 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 said she doesn’t 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.

“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 who is 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.

“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 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 Twomey’s 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 Twomey’s car.

Mr Wojciechowski left a four page 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 Twomey’s car.

Former South Devon Chief Supt Jim Nye said: “No one foresaw that outcome.”

The Twomeys were on the last day of their UK holiday – a holiday chosen by Con Twomey because he believed it would be safer than a sun holiday for his wife who was five months pregnant with their second child.

Mr Wojciechowski’s widow, who found her husband’s suicide note, said he couldn’t cope after she had asked him for a separation following months of marital problems and financial pressure.

Ralph Riegel and Paul Andrews

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