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Dublin: 13°C Wednesday 25 May 2022

Opinion: My sister was an innocent victim, wrongly taken. Our family will never be the same.

This is my message to every driver out there: it’s not worth the text, the speed or that one extra drink for the road.

Catherine Flaherty

IT WAS A Tuesday. The 28th June 2011. Everybody was out enjoying the sun and grasping every moment of it until the infamous Irish raining weather returned.

I was browsing through Galway city’s famous shop streets waiting to meet my sister but, despite numerous calls made, I failed to reach her and decided to hit the roads back home to Connemara.

As I landed home, our local Garda came to the door wishing to speak to my parents. I didn’t think anything of it, possibly due to the fact that he wasn’t in uniform or in a patrol car.

The next few words that came out of the Garda’s mouth made me speechless, I couldn’t grasp what he had just said – the words that my sister Delia was hit by a driver who drove 8km on the wrong side of the motorway and that she was critically injured.
I looked at my father and all I could think about was how I was going to tell my mother, who had just flown over to America to visit her terminally ill brother who was dying from cancer.

I hoped was it was a dream

The long drive from Tullamore was the hardest journey I have ever endured, I didn’t know what to expect. All I hoped was that this was a dream and Delia would be OK.

When I landed there, Delia was lying hooked to a ventilator with my brother and her partner on either side of her. Doctors were hopeful and informed us they would ease her off the sedation the following day and wake her up.

But the following day arrived and my sister failed to wake up from the sedation. The doctors, now getting worried, administered another brain scan.

They brought us into a room and told us that her brain scans had returned and shown that her brain was swelling and she needed to be brought to Beaumont Hospital urgently. When I heard the words “Beaumont Hospital,” I knew this was serious and her prospect of surviving was hanging in the balance.

My mother arrived in Dublin Airport from America, rushing to be beside my sister’s bedside in Beaumont. Delia’s condition deteriorated rapidly through the day and the night. Then we were told that my sister was brain-dead and that she was gone.

We felt so numb and confused and couldn’t understand how this has happened.

It’s not worth the text, the speed or that one extra drink

The doctors brought up the topic of organ donation to us, and although we were so traumatised we agreed that her kidneys to be donated as I myself suffered from a chronic kidney condition I know my sister would want to help others.

Organ donation is a topic that is not discussed fully in Ireland and I do believe it’s a very important issue, – it’s not a morbid subject to discuss. Although we lost my amazing sister it has helped us so much knowing that she is a hero and has helped two other individuals here in Ireland.

Since my sister passing I have joined the NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) Irish Road Victims Association where I work as a secretary and it’s the best thing I have ever done, it helps me to get up each day and help other families who have been a victims of losing someone on our roads or who have been seriously injured.

I urge every driver out there reading this – it’s not worth the text, the speed or that one extra drink for the road. My sister was an innocent victim wrongly taken, and our family will never be the same again. In our house all you hear is the sound of tears, our family chain has forever been broken.

A car is only a tin, a tin that can cause so much devastation. It’s not worth risking your life or others, don’t be another victim – once you’re a victim who has lost someone to a road traffic accident, you’re a victim for life.

Thank you.

Further information on the Irish Road Victims Association is on www.irva.ie or on Facebook Irish Road Victims Association or on Twitter Irish Road Victims Association @IRVAroadsafety

Opinion: It was a day like any other, until my motorbike crashed and my life changed forever

About the author:

Catherine Flaherty

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