independent

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Public comes to mum's aid after heartless car theft

VITAL MEDICAL DOCUMENTS RECOVERED BUT ONE LEG BRACE STILL MISSING

IRREPLACEABLE medical documents were returned to a Greystones mum of four autistic children last Friday after a massive social media campaign got under way following the theft of her car.

Eileen O'Toole from Burnaby Avenue was with two of her kids, Dylan (12) and EJ (5), when she parked on Florence Road at 3.25 p.m. on Thursday afternoon close to Smyth's Toy Store.

Ten minutes later she returned to find her car, a 2001 silver Opel Zafira, had been stolen on a busy street in broad daylight.

One of her son's medical records dating back eleven years were in the car as were two computer games, an iPad, a chainsaw, a hedgecutters, a Sat Nav, schoolbags, school coats, a special needs buggy which costs almost €500, a safety harness and two AFO leg braces for her five-year-old who suffers from Cerebral Palsy.

Frantic about the loss of the medical records, a massive social media campaign was started by Eileen and her friends and on Friday the car was found abandoned in a housing estate in Bray.

Fortunately all of her son's medical records were intact but most of her other belongings with the exception of the safety harness and one of the leg braces were stolen.

Eileen said the response she and her husband Michael have received since Thursday has been absolutely phenomenal.

'When we saw the car was stolen it was hectic. Obviously the most important thing we needed to get back was our 11-year-old's medical records.' 'We had them in the car because he had been at an assessment up the North and we had been told to bring all his medical records with him.

'Not only would these have been nearly impossible to replace they're also something you wouldn't want strangers reading.

' Thankfully they were still in the car when it was recovered as was my son's safety harness. One leg brace was also in it but the second one was stolen.'

Eileen said she was shocked that the thief who was videoed stealing the car on high quality CCTV was so brazen to take the vehicle in broad daylight on such a busy street. However the whole incident left the two sons, who with her on the day, shaken with her five year particularly upset.

Even yesterday (Tuesday) he remained fearful and kept asking when the family would be getting their car back and checking that the replacement car from the couple's insurance company wasn't stolen.

Eileen said she has been gobsmacked by the kindness and generosity of people and also the speed of the social media campaign. 'It has been overwhelming. The news of the theft got out there so quickly between social media and the local radio stationPeople have been absolutely fantastic. It would restore your faith in people.

' The amount of people who offered to lend us a car and garages willing to do the repairs for free. It has been really tremendous.

'Conor Pope from the Irish Times contacted Mothercare and they are giving us a new special needs buggy.

'It's unbelievable that people would be that kind. I can't believe the amount of people who want to help.

' Two women I don't know are organising a coffee morning for November 9 in the Beach House, Greystones at 11 am to help raise money to replace the stolen items.'

Eileen paid tribute to the gardai who arrived so promptly and also who dealt with her children with great compassion, to her two friends Valerie Bradshaw Cullen and Sinead Dutton, to East Coast Radio, to Conor Pope and to the people of Greystones and the surrounding areas.

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