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Crash tragedy mum launches safety campaign

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Elber Twoney with son Oisin and husband Con, both killed by a suicidal driver in UK.

Elber Twoney with son Oisin and husband Con, both killed by a suicidal driver in UK.

Elber Twoney with son Oisin and husband Con, both killed by a suicidal driver in UK.

AN IRISH woman who lost her entire family to a suicidal taxi driver in the UK is determined that no other family suffers as she did and has kick-started a new road safety campaign.

Elber Twomey (37) had a personal meeting with Transport Minister Leo Varadkar who has pledged to give his full support to any measures that will enhance Irish road safety.

Ms Twomey 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 Volkswagen Golf.

RAMMED

The teacher's husband, Con (38), died 10 months later from the injuries he sustained in the collision. Wojciechowski had left a suicide note and circled a busy road 12 times before ramming the Twomeys' car just seconds after a police constable had tried to pull him over.

Ms Twomey told the Herald that she now believes, from studying Irish road accident reports, that cars have been used by people with suicidal ideation in Ireland.

And she urged Minister Varadkar to ensure that gardai have the training supports needed to deal with suicidal individuals behind the wheel.

"In our meeting I expressed my opinion for the huge need in Ireland for all gardai to be trained appropriately to deal with (such) poor suicidal souls not to mention, as in our story, a suicidal driver," she added.

"The lack of this (training) in the UK cost me my entire family. I explained to the minister that at Baba Oisin's inquest, the kind coroner, Ian Arrow, made a very important point in his closing statement. He asked ACPO (UK police supervision body) to review how police officers approach suicidal persons.

"I told Mr Varadkar that I had been in touch with the coroner's office earlier this month and that ACPO are working actively on this. I also highlighted to the Minister how alarmed I was on reading the Road Safety Authority (RSA) provisional review of road crashes report for 2013."

She wants the gardai to mirror Devon and Cornwall Police who amended their strategy for dealing with high-risk motorists in the wake of the tragedy that claimed her family.

SUPPORT

Her campaign has already received support from the RSA and charities such as Suicide Aware, Inspire and 3Ts.

Ms Twomey said that Mr Varadkar has agreed to seek further research on both suicidal drivers and ways of improving Irish road safety.

The teacher said that her research 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. "Obviously it is an optional thing which I personally think is ridiculous considering the level of suicide across the world."

A Garda spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.

HNEWS@HERALD.IE


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