Monday 20 November 2017

'I said, "I think they are dead" but I didn't recognise them as my wife and daughter' - Awful twist of fate as dad helped at accident

Geraldine Clancy and her daughter Louise Ann Clancy
Geraldine Clancy and her daughter Louise Ann Clancy

Independent.ie Newsdesk and Ralph Riegel

A DEVASTATED husband and father has said he initially failed to recognise his wife and daughter when - in an awful twist of fate - he was among the first to come across the accident in which they died.

Friday night's RTE Six One News featured an interview by Sharon Ni Bheolain with Noel Clancy who lost his wife and daughter in a car crash just over a year ago in Cork.

Tragic Louise Clancy, who died with her mother Geraldine in a freak accident close to their home
Tragic Louise Clancy, who died with her mother Geraldine in a freak accident close to their home
Victims Louise (pictured) and Geraldine Clancy survived the initial impact but were trapped in their overturned car and drowned
Geraldine Clancy

Noel came upon the crash near his home and tried to help the rescue efforts not realising his family were in the car.

"I can see them lying on the road. The firemen working on them - they fought on the road for them," Mr Clancy said.

"As I turned back they were pulling a girl out of the car and she was blue, purple. I didn't recognise her.

"I turned back... and I said, 'that girl is dead'.

Noel Clancy (front left) carries the remains of daughter and mother Louise and Geraldine Clancy pictured at St. Martin's Church, Kilworth.
Noel Clancy (front left) carries the remains of daughter and mother Louise and Geraldine Clancy pictured at St. Martin's Church, Kilworth.

"And as I turned back again they were pulling a woman out of the car and I didn't recognise her.

"And I said, 'Mike, that woman is dead as well, I think the two of them are dead'.

"And as I looked back from Mike, swung back, I saw the car, and I said, 'It's the same colour as ours'. Dark blue. I had to close the boot and read the number plate of the car and then I knew it was them."

The sheer scale of the tragedy in which mother and daughter Geraldine (58) and Louise (22) drowned in a flooded ditch after their Ford car was struck by the vehicle driven by Susan Gleeson (21) raised fundamental questions about Ireland's road safety system.

Ms Gleeson wept as she apologised to the Clancy family last year at a hushed Cork Circuit Criminal Court and received a three-year suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death on December 22, 2015.

She was driving on an L-plate without a full licence holder in the car, which is against the law.

Now, new legislation - part of the Clancy Act in memory of Geraldine and Louise - means that any person who facilitates a learner driver to drive without a full licence driver, for example by providing access to a vehicle, will also be committing an offence.

"It was 10,705 days from the day I got married to the day she died. I counted it, and I factored in the leap years, I factored in everything... and we were a hell of a team, we were a great team," Mr Clancy said.

"Stephen's Day 2015, before we came to the church, they closed the lids of the coffins and I would have given back an awful lot of those 10,705 days for one minute to say goodbye. And that was robbed, that was gone, didn't have that time.

"I kissed her lips, and I thanked her for the life she shared with me and I asked her to mind Louise. And I'll tell you one thing now, she did not need asking."

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