Tuesday 20 August 2019

'We lost Katie because teen driver was showing off in high-powered car'

Tragic: Katie Murphy, who died in the crash in October 2016
Tragic: Katie Murphy, who died in the crash in October 2016

Ralph Riegel

The heartbroken father of a teenage girl killed in a car crash said he lost his daughter because a 17-year-old boy was "showing off driving a high-powered car".

Young drivers were urged to slow down and think of their responsibility to their passengers by the Waterford family, who have vowed to pursue a road safety campaign in memory of their late daughter.

Kate 'Katie' Murphy (16) died when the imported Japanese car in which she was a back-seat passenger crashed into a wall on the Cliff Road in Waterford in October 2016.

Edward O'Shea (19), who was 17 at the time and driving unaccompanied on a learner permit, was jailed for 14 months last week for careless driving causing the death of a young girl hailed as "beautiful, intelligent, kind and compassionate".

He was also convicted of careless driving causing serious injury.

O'Shea, a motorsports enthusiast, was driving a 1.6-litre twin-cam Toyota Levin car with a modified, lowered suspension, low-profile track-style tyres and which was capable of speeds up to 240kmh.

Parents Hilary and Vivienne Murphy launched a special road safety campaign called 'Odd Socks For Katie', which aims to remind drivers - particularly young drivers - of the terrible consequences of careless driving and showing off.

Judge Eugene O'Kelly issued a stark warning, when jailing O'Shea, that some young drivers treated public roads like their own private race tracks.

Katie died shortly after the impact from horrific head and torso injuries - and while two other passengers survived, they sustained critical head, chest and limb injuries. "I don't want any other family to suffer the nightmare that has been visited on our family," Hilary said.

"He [O'Shea] destroyed our lives, that of Katie's brothers, grandparents and wider family. We have no joy in family occasions, no joy in festive gatherings and, as a rule, we don't even attend family functions like weddings any more.

"In my view, we lost our daughter because Mr O'Shea was showing off driving a high-powered car.

"The message behind 'Odd Socks For Katie' is one of care. We advise that drivers, who have a duty of care to their passengers, simply slow down and drive with due care.

"We also ask that if any child or young adult is in a car being driven carelessly, and are worried about their safety, to take immediate action. Have the courage to say: 'Stop and let me out'. Your parents will come and collect you. No parent wants their child to arrive home in a hearse."

Irish Independent

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