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Cork woman who lost family after crash with suicidal driver says she'll never return to crash scene

Elber Twomey’s son Oisín and her unborn daughter, Elber Marie, died after the crash while her husband Con died 10 months later.
Oct 5th 2015, 6:00 AM 31,985 10

ELBER TWOMEY LOST her husband, infant son and unborn daughter when a suicidal driver hit their car during a holiday in Torquay, England, three years ago.

Elber’s husband Con lost his fight for life ten months after the accident, while her little boy Oisín died in surgery immediately after the crash.

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Elber herself sustained life-threatening injuries, and did not regain consciousness for three to four weeks afterwards.

The Cork woman now campaigns to raise awareness about suicidal drivers, and works with police in England and Ireland on how to improve the ways in which the police service deal with and handle people who are suicidal. 

Speaking on a TV3 documentary, ‘Disclosure: The Elber Twomey Story’, Elber said:

I shouldn’t be able to walk or talk so I want to see one tiny positive come out of this, in honour of Con and Oisín and baby Elber, I do, I really do.

Disclosure Life After Death The Elber Twomey Story on TV3Elber and Oisin

Speaking about returning to Torquay, she said, ”I don’t think I released quite how hard it would be until the taxi was driving up there.

The evening before the crash we would have been on the beach and walking on the prom so when the taxi drove up there, I just broke down completely. I just hadn’t thought about that aspect of it.

prom

She said that she will never return to the scene of the crash.

I will be saying when I get into a taxi going to Torbay Hospital, I don’t care how far out of the way you have to go, sorry Sir but please don’t ever go on Hamelin Way.

‘I’m surprised anyone survived’

Tracy Arscott from the Emergency Service was one of the first people on the scene, she said, “as we were arriving and running towards the vehicles, the cars were just completely mangled. I’m surprised anyone survived.”

Elber’s son Oisín and her unborn baby daughter, Elber Marie, died at Torbay Hospital. Emergency Department Manager, Karen Cloherty, said:

The medical team looking after Oisín were extremely distressed, as they would be, it’s a child death. It was really hard.

“And also that her husband wasn’t brought to that hospital. That’s what made it so difficult because as shocking as it is and as distressing, you know I’m an experienced A&E nurse, they’re not my children, they’re somebody else’s children and that somebody else doesn’t yet know, and for quite a long period of time their family didn’t know either, so I felt very responsible for these two people.”

unnamed (4) Source: TV3

Blame and anger

Following the tragic event and on reflection, Elber blamed the police for panicking Marek Wojciechowski, the suicidal driver of the vehicle which collided with the Twomey’s car, and she was convinced that more careful handling of Marek could have led to a different outcome.

unnamed (5) Source: TV3

However, an inquest into the accident found that Devon and Cornwall wasn’t at fault, the individual police officer wasn’t at fault and their actions were all in line with National Police training and guidance.

But Elber’s view that the police could have been better trained to handle a person with such suicidal tendencies is what has led her to start raising suicide awareness and helping to improve the ways in which the police service deal with and handle people who are suicidal.

The two Twomey Family Remorial weekends organised by Elber has raised more than €50,000, which has been donated to organisations such as Pieta House, Suicide Aware, Reach Out, as well as Cork University, Derriford and Torbay Hospitals.

‘Disclosure: The Elber Twomey Story’ will air tonight at 9pm on TV3.

Helplines:

  • Console  1800 247 247 – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement)

  • Aware 1890 303 302 (depression, anxiety)

  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email mary@pieta.ie - (suicide, self-harm)

  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)

  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

Read: Twomey family tragedy used for garda training>

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Cliodhna Russell

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