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'It's better than your child coming home in a hearse': Family campaign after daughter killed in car crash

“I honestly expected that we’d go out to Tramore and she’d be sat on the kerb, maybe with a broken arm or a couple of bruises.”

Image: RIP.ie

THE FATHER OF a 16-year-old girl killed in a road collision involving an unaccompanied learner driver has told of the devastating effect it has had on his family. 

Katie Murphy (16) died after the car being driven by Edward O’Shea, who was 17 at the time, crashed in Tramore, Co Waterford, two years ago. 

Yesterday, O’Shea, who is now 19, was handed a six-year driving ban and sentenced to 14 months in prison by Judge Eugene O’Kelly after pleading guilty to careless driving at Waterford Circuit Court. 

Speaking on Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One, Katie’s father Hilary Murphy described the moment he received the call to say his daughter was in a car accident. He recalled his heartbreak at arriving at the scene to find paramedics unsuccessfully trying to resuscitate her. 

“We didn’t even realise she had left the house,” he explained. 

“I got a phone call from a lady who lives maybe 20 to 50 yards away from where the crash happened and she just said you better get out here quick, Katie has been involved in an accident and hung up.

“I honestly expected that we’d go out to Tramore and she’d be sat on the kerb, maybe with a broken arm or a couple of bruises.

The Fire Brigade guys had taken the roof off the car and they were taking her out on a board so we went over and had a look at Kate and pretty much realised that she was gone.

“They took her into the ambulance and for some reason the back door of the ambulance flew open and I could see that she was being resuscitated inside the ambulance so at that stage I pretty much knew that she was gone.”

Two other passengers in the car survived the collision but were left with permanent injuries, with one suffering several broken bones and another being placed into a medically induced coma. 

In the minutes leading up to the crash, Katie reportedly uploaded videos onto social media site Snapchat where the passengers were heard saying “that the car was being driven over the speed limit”.

One passenger of the modified Japanese import said, “Basically we’re going to be killed in this car and somebody in the front said ‘yeah we probably are’”, according to Murphy.

In his sentencing, as reported by the Irish Times, Judge O’Kelly said “some young men, particularly young men treat the public roads like some form of private racetrack”.

Aftermath

Since the collision occurred a number of measures have been taken to improve visibility and prevent further collisions along the same road. 

“It’s along the cliff outside Tramore. Some people might know the Gillameens, it’s a swimming area and it’s a very twisty road,” Murphy told O’Rourke today. 

“Since the accident they’ve put in lighting along the whole stretch, they’ve put in speed bumps the whole way out – but unfortunately that’s no good to us.

“There was a number of witnesses living along the road who spoke of the terror when they heard the car coming at such speed. At least two of them jumped up and said ‘Oh my God, there’s going to be an accident’… And went outside straight away and as soon as they got out, the car was against the wall.”

Katie’s family has started a campaign to deter young drivers from speeding and to warn passengers to get out of a car if the driver breaks the speed limit. 

The campaign is called Odd Socks for Katie because one of her friends started wearing odd socks in her honour since Katie died.

“The message behind it is if you are in a car that is being driven dangerously just tell the driver to stop, get out of the car, phone your parents and get them to take you home,” Murphy said. 

“Any parent will come out and collect the child, they might be upset about being disturbed or whatever but it’s much better than your child coming home in a hearse.

“We basically try to empower children to have the courage to say stop let me out,” he said. 

Murphy said he and his wife were both burdened by the huge loss in their lives since Katie’s death and added that her siblings, especially her younger brother Scott, were heartbroken. 

“They were very, very close and Scott would be a quieter guy, and Katie was such a fun-loving person. If she saw him lying on his bed playing video games or whatever she would literally come in and dive on top of him to make him laugh and get him out.

“It’s a big loss to Scott because she was a lifeline, I suppose,” he said. 

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