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‘I don’t want anyone to go through what I endured’ – mother who lost all her family to suicidal driver


Elber Twomey with her late husband and son, Con and Oisín, who both died in crash in England 10 years ago

Elber Twomey with her late husband and son, Con and Oisín, who both died in crash in England 10 years ago

Maeve Kelly shows a photo of the car after her crash. Photo: SundayWorld

Maeve Kelly shows a photo of the car after her crash. Photo: SundayWorld


Elber Twomey with her late husband and son, Con and Oisín, who both died in crash in England 10 years ago

Every year Elber Twomey stages a special “Remorial” event to remember the family she lost to a driver suffering a mental health crisis.

She uses the weekend to promote road safety, to raise money for needy local charities but, above all, to honour the memories of the son, unborn daughter and husband she was robbed of.

Above all, Ms Twomey doesn't want to see any family – in Ireland or across Europe – to suffer the heartbreaking loss she endured on a British road just hours before an idyllic summer holiday was scheduled to end.

“I don’t want anyone to go through the nightmare that I endured,” she said.

"Life is precious and that is the message I want people to take – that everything about road regulations should be about protecting your own precious cargo and the precious lives of other road users.

“There is so much we can all do to make our roads safer. But I think it all begins with the first step.

"I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I have endured.”

This week Ms Twomey is joining Maeve Kelly, another Irish woman who suffered life-threatening injuries in a head-on collision caused by a mentally unstable driver, on a trip to Brussels as part of their campaign for enhanced road-safety protections across Europe.

The European Commission is hosting the keynote hearing tomorrow to discuss ways in which road safety protocols across Europe can be enhanced – including how mental health issues impact on driving licence supervision.

Safety campaigners want medical professionals who are aware of individuals with psychosis issues to be required to notify these to the police.

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This would, in turn, trigger an automatic safety review of the driver's licence involved.

Both women were invited to Brussels for tomorrow's EU event following Road Safety Authority (RSA) submissions on driving license supervision and medical fitness assessment.

Ms Twomey lost her entire family in a horror crash in England caused by a suicidal driver, with the 10th anniversary of the tragedy occurring in July.

The north Cork woman lost her husband Con (38), their 16-month-old son Oisín and their unborn baby girl Elber-Marie in a collision in Devon on July 6, 2012.

The tragedy was caused by suicidal Polish taxi driver, Marek Wojciechowski (26), who rammed their Volkswagen Golf outside Torquay as they were travelling back to Ireland.


Maeve Kelly shows a photo of the car after her crash. Photo: SundayWorld

Maeve Kelly shows a photo of the car after her crash. Photo: SundayWorld

Maeve Kelly shows a photo of the car after her crash. Photo: SundayWorld

Con died almost 10 months later from the terrible injuries he sustained in the collision.

Baby Oisín and his unborn sister, Elber Marie, died within hours of the horrific collision.

Ms Twomey survived despite a serious head injury and then having to endure 19 separate operations after the accident.

Since her recovery, she has tirelessly campaigned for road safety reforms in Ireland and abroad – and has been honoured in multiple countries for her courageous work.

Her “Remorial” weekend was created to honour the memories of Con, Oisín and Elber-Marie – and to help needy local causes.

This year her “Remorial” weekend takes place on June 11 and 12 with a series of events including a 55km charity cycle and a 10km road race.

"Life is precious – that is the message I'd like people to take," she said.

Ms Twomey added that she never thought she could forgive Mr Wojciechowski for what he took away from her in 2012 but her faith helped her through.

“I had to find forgiveness in my heart. If I didn’t I would have faced a life full of bitterness and anger,” she said.

The courageous widow said she bluntly refused to pray for the Polish taxi driver in September 2012 in a conversation with a priest who was a friend of the family because she was so angry at what his actions had cost her.

But, three months later, she was lighting a candle for him and his family at the chapel in Cork University Hospital (CUH).

Ms Twomey said she also felt it was important to have met Mr Wojciechowski’s widow, Agnieszka, to stress that she did not blame her for what happened.

“I had heard that she was blaming herself. I wanted her to know that I didn’t blame her… that relationships break up all the time and this kind of thing doesn’t happen.”

Agnieszka found a four-page suicide note written by her husband and this led to the police alert for her husband that fateful day in Devon.

The taxi driver deliberately accelerated into the Twomey's family car when a police officer triggered his lights and siren to get him to pull over.

After baby Oisín’s inquest, his mother called for a change in the way police deal with such high-risk and potentially suicidal drivers.

Ms Twomey has since devoted her life to campaigning for better police training and enhanced road-safety measures.

Former garda chief superintendent Aidan Reid introduced suicide awareness training for control room staff as a result of her campaign.

Similar training is also now part of the syllabus used for new recruits in the Garda College in Templemore.

Also travelling to Brussels is Maeve Kelly who miraculously survived a head-on collision in Roscommon in March 2016.

Ms Kelly and her teenage daughter Abbie were left with lifelong physical and mental scars following a collision caused by a driver suffering from psychosis.

The other driver, who died in the collision, had deliberately switched off his vehicle's lights and swerved to the other side of the road, crashing head-on into their car.

Ms Kelly has since been calling for legislation to be passed that will grant powers to temporarily remove a driving licence from someone if they are having a psychotic episode.

“He overtook a line of traffic and drove straight into me. Just before impact, his lights went out. I put my hand on my daughter’s knee and I said, ‘We have nowhere to go. And that was it. He had been diagnosed with a severe mental illness.

“I woke up weeks later in the hospital and it was only then I learned the extent of my injuries – they were catastrophic,” Ms Kelly said.

She had broken both of her legs, numerous other bones and suffered a bleed on the brain.

“Everything that you know is fragmented. It’s only at that point that the grieving process starts when you realise that your identity is gone”.

Ms Kelly has called for a review and “tightening of the legislation” around people with severe mental illness and their access to “what I now know can be a lethal weapon” in terms of a car, van or truck.

“I think their cognitive ability to drive should be assessed on a regular basis because getting behind the wheel can pose a risk to not only themselves but to others too,” Maeve said.

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