Saturday 24 August 2019

'I just knew' - widow of man killed during Storm Opehlia wants clearer Red Alert guidelines

Fintan and Pamela Goss pictured on their wedding day
Fintan and Pamela Goss pictured on their wedding day

Elaine Keogh

The widow of a young father who died while driving home during Storm Ophelia believes he would be alive if emergency vehicles were the only vehicles permitted on the roads during a Status Red weather alert.

Pamela Goss has also called for clear guidelines to be brought in so that the next time there is a Status Red weather alert workers know to “stay at home.”

Her husband Fintan (33) was a 5 minute drive from their home in Ravensdale, county Louth when a tree fell on his car. 

She has written to the Oireachtas members in county Louth, where the couple lived with their two children, saying a set of such binding rules would “remove the confusion for employers about whether staff need to come into work, or go home from work, during the height of the storm".

Fintan had text her when he was leaving work and when he was not home 15 minutes later she said she knew something had happened.

“He text me at 14 minutes past 2 and said ‘leaving now, be home in 15,” she said.

“It was exactly 15 minutes later and I was so on edge [as he wasn't home]."

She didn’t want to ring him in case he was driving and she thought he might have dropped into his mother, who lives nearby, but he hadn’t.

Instead, as she waited, she looked on Facebook and saw a notice that there was a tree down and access was closed to the Newry Road at Ravensdale.

“I sat down over there and I had this sick, sick, sick feeling and I just knew, I just knew,” she said.

“Then I rang him and his phone was off.  It is never off; it always goes to the message minder or else he’d have it on silent for work and it wouldn’t answer, so I just knew.”

It emerged that a tree had fallen onto the back of his car, killing him.

Mr Goss’s brother, Colin, echoed his sister-in-law’s calls.

“For me once a red alert issued all public roads are should be closed except to emergency staff,” he said.

“It wouldn’t take much to put that in place and it would take out all ambiguity as Pam says,” he added.

The matter was raised in the Dail on Wednesday evening by Louth Fine Gael deputy Peter Fitzpatrick, who referred to a report being carried out into the storm response.

In a statement the Department of Housing said it, 'extends its condolences to the families and friends of the three people who lost their lives during Storm Ophelia last month.'

'The response to Storm Ophelia is currently being reviewed. A report will be prepared which will be submitted to the Government Taskforce on Emergency Planning for its attention before being submitted for the approval of Government in January 2018.'

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