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'Don't let others suffer as we have', say grieving families of road victims

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Valerie Hyland with a photo of her son Paul McCormack

Valerie Hyland with a photo of her son Paul McCormack

Valerie Hyland with a photo of her son Paul McCormack

The families of road accident victims spoke of their sorrow and continuing pain as they honoured their dead at a memorial in Dublin yesterday.

Grieving mothers called for action to clamp down on dangerous driving so that others might be spared their agony.

One mum, Cathy Reid, told of how she had begged her 28-year-old son Karl Robertson to wake up after she was told he had died.

Another, Valerie Hyland, said she had kept her 16-year-old son Paul McCormack's bedroom untouched since his death three years ago.

Speaking at the road safety group PARC's World Day of Remembrance at Parnell's GAA Club yesterday, Ms Hyland said she still feels "emptiness" when she goes into Paul's room.

Speeding

Paul was out with his friends near his home in Finglas, Co Dublin, in June 2015 when an unaccompanied learner driver, who was speeding, swerved to avoid the group but tragically hit him.

Ms Hyland told the Herald: "It's like an emptiness that you can't fill inside. The house is empty and you're waiting for him to come back.

"His room is just the way he left it. I still have it like that, his clothes and all are still there.

"He was bubbly. He wanted to go travel in Australia after his Leaving Cert and he was just my rock, really."

She added that her son's death has had a horrific impact on her family, which she said was "falling apart" as a result.

"People need to slow down and take care on the road. When something like this happens your whole life changes in a split second," she added.

PARC, founded by Susan McKay after she lost her husband Stephen Gray in a collision with an unaccompanied learner driver, offers support to families of road traffic fatalities.

In the past year, some 130 people were killed on Irish roads and hundreds more injured. Every day, 3,500 people are killed on the roads around the world.

Ms Reid, whose son was killed in a hit and run in March 2017, called for road safety measures to be introduced immediately.

"Karl was a non-drinker, non-smoker and really looked after his health and then to go in and see him there, I just prayed he woke up," she said, speaking of the moment she was told he had died.

"I begged for him to wake up and he didn't.

"It doesn't get any easier - if anything it gets harder.

"We don't celebrate Christmas; we don't put up a tree or decorations and we don't celebrate birthdays. I just can't [do it] without him.

"I will always be angry because the person who killed Karl had three 10-year driving bans, 49 previous convictions and yet he was still able to purchase a car and that just has to change.

"He was illegally driving on the roads and the gardai have no way of detecting this.

"We really need the handheld device which will show everything about the registration of the car and the person driving it.

"I don't want to see anybody live with the pain that we live with and will live with."

Gardai have said they hope to have new handheld devices by the end of the year.

The instruments will give patrol units greater access to drivers' information on the spot.

Misery

Road safety campaigner Christina Donnelly, who lost her son Brendan to a collision caused by a drink-driver, urged every motorist to heed safety warnings.

She urged people to consider the testimonies from the World Day of Remembrances.

"I think every motorist should ask themselves, 'Do I really want to live the rest of my life knowing what pain, misery and suffering speed or drink-driving caused?'," she said.

"When you get behind the wheel, please drive safely.

"I don't want any other mother or father to go through the hell that we have endured every day for almost the past nine years."


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