Monday 18 December 2017

Woman who lost family to suicide crash urges garda rethink on 'high-risk' drivers

Elber and Conor Twomey with baby Oisin
Elber and Conor Twomey with baby Oisin
Elber Twomey
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A WOMAN who lost her entire family to a suicidal taxi driver in the UK has launched a campaign to get the gardai to change their policy for dealing with high-risk motorists.

Elber Twomey (37) told the Irish Independent she was determined to ensure that no other family would suffer her appalling loss.

The north Cork woman lost her son Oisin (16 months) and her unborn baby girl, Elber Marie, in a head-on collision in Torquay, Devon, on July 6, 2012, after Polish taxi driver Marek Wojciechowski (26) deliberately rammed their VW Golf.

He had left a suicide note and circled a busy dual carriageway 12 times before ramming the Twomeys' car.

Elber's husband, Con (38), died almost 10 months later from his injuries.

Now, Elber wants the gardai to follow the example of Devon and Cornwall Police, who amended their strategy for dealing with high-risk motorists in the wake of the tragedy.

She said: "I don't want any other family to suffer what happened to us. I am grateful for the changes that were made by Devon and Cornwall Police and I am hopeful that the gardai will see the benefits of having similar strategies here." Her campaign has received support from the Road Safety Authority (RSA), Limerick TD Niall Collins, and charities such as Suicide Aware, Inspire and 3Ts.

RSA boss John Caulfield has agreed to write to Garda Commission Martin Callinan asking him to consider the policy and training changes requested by Elber. A garda spokesperson declined to comment.

SUICIDE NOTE

"This is a mission very close to my heart. I don't want any other family to end up with my life or indeed the life of poor Marek's wife," Elber said.

The teacher said her research had revealed that since 2004, around 150 gardai annually undertake a special 'Assist' programme, which deals with handling high-risk individuals.

"By my checking there were 13,159 gardai on the system as at September 30, 2013. That tells me that over 11,500 gardai or over 88pc have received no training," she said.

Devon and Cornwall Police have directed that only the most highly trained drivers can now pursue motorists in high-risk situations.

Elber is hopeful that other police forces around the UK will adopt the Devon and Cornwall strategy.

Irish Independent

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