Saturday 24 February 2018

'Laws alone can't end the carnage' - Warning to motorists as road crash teen laid to rest

The remains of young Kiara Baird is taken to her last resting place at Drumboe Cemetary. (North West Newspix)
The remains of young Kiara Baird is taken to her last resting place at Drumboe Cemetary. (North West Newspix)

Stephen Maguire

A priest has told motorists that they must not rely on sat navs and road safety campaigns but must take responsibility on the roads themselves.

Fr John Joe Duffy was speaking at the funeral masses of two young women who perished in a horrific crash in Co Donegal on Wednesday afternoon last.

Kiara Baird (19) and Maria Wallis, died after the car in which they were traveling went out of control and struck a lamppost on the outskirts of Ballybofey at 4.15pm.

Both women were laid to rest at the weekend after funeral masses at St Mary’s church in Stranorlar, Maria on Saturday and Kiara on Sunday.

Fr Duffy told large crowds of mourners that people must starting thinking for themselves when they get behind the wheel if we are to cut down on the carnage on out roads.

“When we sit into many of our cars today to start put on our journey, our sat navs tell us the distance to destination, our expected time of arrival, the best route to take, left turns, right turns and so on.

Kiara Baird
Kiara Baird
Kiara Baird with boyfriend John Brennan

“The voice that is missing is the very one that is most needed, the most relevant voice of all, it is a voice to tell us to slow down, to ask us why the need for high speed, to ask us what is the rush, to remind us that it is better to arrive late than to be killed in order to arrive in time for our own funeral.

“But even more importantly together with the voice from our dashboards we have to look to within ourselves, to our conscience and start asking ourselves these questions.

“Each and everyone of us need to ask them of ourselves. Should we drive, are we fit to drive in a safe cautious manner? We are only fooling ourselves if we believe that laws alone can end the carnage on our roads, important as laws are, if they can be our only response, excellent eloquent speeches, highly visual impact adverts and campaigns,  appeals and speeches can be our only answers, no matter how well presented they may be, if we believe that these alone are enough we are fooling ourselves.”

He added: “No matter how many Garda checkpoints and speed checks they are, which are absolutely necessary, if we fail to turn to ourselves, if we fail to look inward to ourselves, if we fail to ask ourselves the very straight forward, simple but relevant questions, each and everyone of us, we will fail to solve the crisis of road deaths and the awful carnage that rips the hearts of families and communities apart.

Maria Wallis. Picture: Facebook
Maria Wallis. Picture: Facebook

“We must turn inward to ourselves, and ask the questions of ourselves, what is our rush? Are we fit to drive, are we driving with due care and caution,” he said.

At today’s mass he paid tribute to Kiara calling her a radiant, beautiful and precious” and sympathised with her parents Tracey and Andrew and siblings.

He said how she had completed a course in beauty and was about to start a course in the hospitality industry having moved to Donegal from her native Dublin with her family 7 years ago.

“This morning Kiara's parents, siblings, family and friends have been plunged into a great and terrible grief, a numbness, a saddness, an unrealness and an awful nightmare.

“The young woman in the youth of her life, the radiant, beautiful and precious Kiara, with her glowing smile, was born in Dublin, moved from Dublin almost 7 years ago to Ballybofey.  She attended St. Columba’s for almost all of her second level education. Kiara finished a beauty course in Strabane sometime ago and in the last few weeks had embarked on a course in hospitality.

“I have no doubt that Kiara would have succeed in that area of life for she was most hospitable. Kiara had a warm, kind and welcoming heart and beautiful bubbly personality.  She was full of life and full of fun, joy and happiness.  She liked to laugh and she loved to be with her friends, her besties, whom she loved and appreciated.

“She made friends easily. Kiara had a beautiful and kind nature. She saw the best in everyone. She looked out to find the good in people.

The only type of person who can do that I believe is someone who has within themselves that innate goodness,  kindness and generosity of heart, all of which Kiara had in great abundance. She was a people's person, she cared for people. She loved to socialise, she loved life, loved to be with friends and she loved taking walks and enjoyed the beauty of the outdoors, she appreciated creation.”

The previous day Fr Duffy had similar words of sympathy for the friends and family of Maria Wallis, a mother of three who also perished in the crash.

Maria, who was originally from Scotland, was completing an education course with Kiara and both had become friendly.

Two of her teenage sons helped carry her coffin to her final resting place.

Fr Duffy said Maria and Kiara’s deaths will have a devastating and numbing affect on the local community for a long time.

“Life is a gift the most precious gift of all. The moments we live life are precious,  family time, time with friends. At every stage in life we believe ourselves to be in control, but that is not always the way, just as on Wednesday afternoon, which was like any other Wednesday afternoon but for Kiara and Maria, a sudden event would show we are not always in control, that their precious lives were ended suddenly under very harrowing and tragic circumstances.

“That sequence of events has led us to be here today in a situation we would rather not be, the tragedy of last Wednesday has had a huge impact on this community, devastating family, loved ones and friends.

The crash that occurred on Wednesday will have a lasting affect on so many people. The events that occurred on Wednesday afternoon last have had a devastating and numbing affect on the lives of two immediate families, loved ones, friends, our community and beyond,” he said.

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