Saturday 7 December 2019

'All Mary wanted was to be a mother - without her, life is unbearable'

Man challenges State as his unborn child dies in crash

Pat and Mary Enright
Pat and Mary Enright

Graham Clifford

In the stillness of a dark night in March 2012, Pat Enright, dazed and in shock, tried desperately to open the door of his vehicle, but the power was gone from his badly injured hands.

Two cars, mangled and destroyed, came to rest on opposite sides of a quiet country road.

At the wheel of Pat's silver Lexus was his beloved wife Mary, then 34 weeks' pregnant. She was dead. In the back seat of the vehicle, a student who played on a GAA side coached by Pat was in agony. The Enrights were driving Jack Lacey back to the University of Limerick when the horrific collision occurred on the road between Bansha and Cahir in Tipperary.

Pat shouted to Jack in the back seat to check if he was OK - he answered 'No'. He then called out for Mary (28) but there was no answer.

Across the road, the driver of a red Kia was motionless. Robert Stoker, a 17-year-old student from Monkstown in Cork, had died on impact.

"Help us, please," cried Pat in panic as passing motorists rushed to the scene. But by then it was too late for Mary, who lost her battle for life on the roadside. Her unborn daughter Mollie passed away soon afterwards.

Pat Enright at the coroners court in Clonmel. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
Pat Enright at the coroners court in Clonmel. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
The scene of the crash on the N24 outside bansha in Co Tipperary. Photo: Press 22

Read more: Husband sues State as his unborn child dies in crash

Coroner Paul Morris found last week at the inquest into the three deaths that Mollie's birth - and death - was at University Hospital Waterford, where the post-mortems were carried out. Mollie died from a lack of oxygen flowing from her dying mother, he ruled.

And in a single moment, Pat's world had been destroyed.

At 4.30am on Tuesday, March 27, some six hours after the collision, he formally identified the body of his darling Mary in hospital in Clonmel.

At the same time as the car Robert Stoker was driving inexplicably veered across the road and into the Enrights' vehicle, at just after 10.30pm on March 26, his mother Maria walked into Douglas Garda Station in Cork to report him missing.

She'd gone out for a walk at 7pm but when she returned home around 8pm she found that Robert, who attended the Presentation Brothers College in Cork city, and the family car were missing.

The quiet fifth-year student didn't have a full licence and had never driven unaccompanied or beyond the local area. He left both his wallet and mobile phone behind.

As the hours ticked by, Maria grew more concerned. She told Garda Elizabeth Bugler that he had been in a "low mood" but said it was totally "out of character" for him to disappear in this way.

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Within 10 minutes of speaking with Mrs Stoker, Garda Bugler had alerted other gardaí across the country via the Pulse system to look out for Robert and the vehicle. But by then it was too late.

Two days before the accident Pat and Mary had excitedly bought baby clothes for their new arrival. They were married for less than a year. Mollie was to be their first child but the young couple from Dungarvan in Waterford, who had a shared love of the GAA, didn't know if the baby would be a girl or a boy.

"Now, we will never know the colour of Mollie's eyes or hear her cry," said Pat in a statement read out in court. He added: "Mollie will forever be wrapped in the blanket that we bought her."

During the inquest, he sat with his head in his hands.

In the months and years which have followed the tragedy, the Enright and Walsh families have continued to ask just why did Robert Stoker's vehicle collide with the one driven by Mary. Also they have campaigned for the cause of Mollie's death to be registered as 'Road Traffic Accident'.

Appeals for the driver of a tractor, reported to have been on the road at the time of the collision, to come forward were fruitless. And so the Enright and Walsh families' search for answers continues.

But the finding by coroner Morris that Mollie was "born" and that it would be within his jurisdiction to assign the status on her that she had therefore died was welcomed by the family.

Read more: Father of teenage driver is sued by widower

In court, a devastated Pat Enright bravely told of his never-ending anguish.

"All Mary ever wanted was to be a mother ... and to have as many children as possible - without her, life has become unbearable."

Irish Independent

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