Sunday 26 May 2019

'I pretty much knew she was gone' - heartbroken dad on seeing daughter Katie (16) at scene of fatal crash

Katie Murphy from Ballinamona Co Waterford who died in a road accident in Tramore
Katie Murphy from Ballinamona Co Waterford who died in a road accident in Tramore

Denise Calnan and Ralph Riegel

A heartbroken dad who lost his 16-year-old daughter in an horrific road traffic accident said he will never forget the sight of her being pulled from the wreckage.

Kate 'Katie' Murphy (16) died when the 1.6-litre Japanese car with a specially lowered suspension and low-profile tyres, being driven by Edward O'Shea, spun out of control and crashed side-on with a wall outside a Tramore housing estate on October 5, 2016.

O'Shea, who is 19 years old now, was jailed for 14 months yesterday after being convicted before Waterford Circuit Criminal Court of careless driving causing death and careless driving causing serious injury.

Speaking on RTE Radio One's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Katie's father Hilary said he didn't realise the seriousness of the crash as he rushed to the scene.

Katie Murphy from Ballinamona Co Waterford who died in a road accident in Tramore
Katie Murphy from Ballinamona Co Waterford who died in a road accident in Tramore

"I got a phonecall from someone who lives about 20 or 50 yards away from where the crash happened. They said 'you'd better get here quick'.

"They said 'Katie's been involved in an accident' and they hung up.

"I thought we'd get to Tramore and and she'd be sitting on the car with a broken arm and a couple of bruises.

"I tried ringing back to see how bad she was but I wasn't getting an answer," Hilary continued.

"[Myself and Vivienne] left in her car and her brother Leon left separately in his car.

"We all arrived at the same time. I saw Katie being taken out of the car on a board, through the back window of the car.

"The back window had popped out on impact and had blown away. I took one look at Katie and I pretty much realised she was gone."

Hilary described the scene of the crash, which also left two young people with life-changing injuries.

Katie Murphys parents Vivienne and Hilary (far right) and her brother, Scot, outside Waterford Circuit Criminal Court. Photo: Ralph Riegel
Katie Murphys parents Vivienne and Hilary (far right) and her brother, Scot, outside Waterford Circuit Criminal Court. Photo: Ralph Riegel

"They took Katie into the back of the ambulance," Hilary said.

"And for some reason the back door flew open and I could see she was being resuscitated and at that stage, I pretty much knew she was gone."

"[Another girl involved in the crash] suffered so many broken bones I wouldn't know where to start.

"I remember the screams from her, the pain as she had broken her pelvis, her ribs, her shoulder.

"She's had so many operations since to try and get herself back together."

Speaking of the other two victims, he said; "They'll never be the same again."

Hilary and Vivienne described their daughter lovingly in their victim impact statement at Edward O'Shea's sentencing yesterday.

"She was at the most fantastic stage of her life," Hilary said this morning.

"She was an extremely popular girl, as you can see from her funeral."

The court heard yesterday that Edward O'Shea apologised to the family in a letter submitted before his sentencing, but Hilary said they hadn't heard from the young man before the court date yesterday.

"Yes, he said he would change everything if he could," Hilary said, "but he can't. He did give a letter to apologise to the Murphy family, but we hadn't heard one word from him before that. There was never a card, a letter, a note or flowers at Christmas or on her birthday. He completely ignored us."

The court heard yesterday that Edward O'Shea now suffers from survivor's guilt, depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder over what happened.

"As we all do," Hilary said today, "the difference is he's the one who caused it.

"A number of witnesses spoke of the terror they heard when they heard the car coming.

"Two of them jumped up and thought, 'oh my god, there's going to be a crash' and as soon as they got outside the car was against a wall."

Mr Murphy said they have launched a road safety campaign in their daughter's memory - and urged young people worried about a driver's speed to have the courage to demand to get out of the vehicle.

"Have the courage to say: 'Stop and let me out'. Your parents will collect you. No parent wants their child to arrive home in a hearse," he said.

Speaking today of their grief, he said; "Ah, it's very tough. It's extremely tough since the court case.

"We're back to square one."

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