Woman who lost family to suicide crash launches road safety campaign

Woman who lost family to suicide crash launches road safety campaign

AN IRISH woman who lost her entire family to a suicidal taxi driver in the UK has obtained the support of Transport Minister Leo Varadkar to launch a new road safety campaign.

Mr Varadkar met with Elber Twomey - who was the only survivor of the collision that killed her husband Con, son Óisín (16 months) and unborn child – as she campaigns to improve Irish road safety.

The 37-year-old Co Cork native and her family were driving home from a holiday on July 6, 2012, when Polish taxi driver Marek Wojciechowski, 26, deliberately drove into their car, causing a head on collision in Torquay, Devon.

On the morning of the crash, Mr Wojciechowski had left a four-page suicide note for his wife who had asked him for a separation.

He circled a busy dual-carriageway 12 times before ramming into the Twomey’s car, seconds after PC Ben Bickford attempted to pull him over.

Elber has since studied Irish road accident reports and seeks to prevent another family from suffering the same tragedy at the hands of a suicidal driver.

The meeting in Cork between Elber and Mr Varadkar was arranged by Fine Gael TD Michael Creed.

Elber said of the meeting, in which she expressed the need for further training for the Gardai in dealing with suicidal people, including suicidal drivers: "He (Mr Varadkar) was most sympathetic to the enormous loss I have suffered.

"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."

Mr Varadkar has agreed to seek further research on both suicidal drivers and improvements to Irish road safety, according to Elber.

Devon and Cornwall Police amended the way it deals with high-risk motorists after the tragedy, and now she wants the Gardai to follow suit.

"I don't want any other family to suffer what happened to us. I am hopeful that the gardai will see the benefits of having similar strategies,” she said.

Elber’s campaign has so far received support charities including Suicide Aware, 3Ts and Pieta House.