A BRAVE Cork woman has revealed she still lights a candle for the suicidal driver responsible for her family’s deaths.
Elber Twomey’s inspiring statement comes more than six years after her little boy Oisín, husband Con and unborn daughter, who she refers to as ‘Little Lady’, were killed in Torquay.
The tragedy occurred when 26-year-old Polish taxi driver, Marek Wojciechowski, deliberately rammed their Volkswagen Golf as they were travelling back to Ireland.
The motorist was being pursued by a police officer before swerving directly into the Twomeys’ car.
Elber’s husband, Con, suffered devastating injuries in the crash and died in Cork University Hospital 10 months later.
Elber, from Meelin in north Cork, was speaking ahead of her annual Twomey Family Remorial 40k Cycle in Rockchapel in memory of Con, Oisín and ‘Little Lady’, tickets for which will be going on sale next week.
Despite the hectic preparations, she still finds time to attend mass twice weekly and lights a candle, not only for her family, but for Marek as well.
She said: “In the early days, a priest and friend of the family told me that he would pray for the driver of that car on my behalf every day until I was strong enough to. I told him ‘Father, I hope you live to be very old because I doubt I’ll ever be praying for him’.
“I didn’t say anything but I was thinking ‘how dare you expect me to pray for this man’.
“Now, I thank him from the bottom of my heart because it was shortly after this time that I lit a candle for Marek. I say a prayer for him every day now.
“Outside of my immediate family, he has probably been the most influential person in my life. I wouldn’t have gone down the road of this campaign or organised the remorial event which, please God, has saved some family from devastation along the way.”
The former teacher, who has campaigned for road safety reforms in Ireland and the UK, finds solace at the graveside of her husband and children.
“I go there to talk to Con a lot. Sometimes I’ll just have a rant.
“I might be talking about the weather or a bread delivery that’s gone missing.
“Normally, I find that if I go to him with a problem that problem will be solved. He must get a smile out of it. I try not to dwell on the ‘what ifs’.”
Elber’s indelible faith keeps her strong during tougher times.
“My faith has always been strong. We always said Oisín’s prayers with him so in that respect we were no different to any other family.
“My heart goes out to anyone struck by tragedy who doesn’t believe in a life beyond where we are now.”
She hopes that this year’s remorial event will highlight the importance of family.
“The event keeps Oisín, Con and Little Lady as people who are alive in everyone’s hearts rather than in a story from long ago.
“It’s all about appreciating just how precious family life is. That’s why I’m so grateful to everyone who has participated and helped in so many different ways.
“Con was very unassuming. I can almost imagine him looking down on me with a smile saying “would you look at the carry-on!”
Elber has met with Mr Wojciechowski’s widow, Agnieszka, in the past after hearing that she blamed herself for the tragedy.
“She emailed me twice, but I didn’t hear from her after that.
“I was conscious that maybe she no longer needed reminders so thought it best to leave her alone. I kept in contact with one of the BBC journalists who tells me that she’s doing okay. I was really happy to hear that.”
Every day comes with painful reminders of Elber’s former life.
“There’s always a moment in time where you remember where you should be. This year Oisín would have been celebrating his communion.
“You get more used to them not physically being there with you, but it’s always difficult.
“The other day a memory popped up on Facebook of me and Oisín when he was a small baby. I cried softly when I saw it. The picture blew me over as it was so unexpected.”
She is grateful for the memories of happier times and added: “One grace I was given is that I have no recollection of the crash. I don’t intend to ever go back there for fear it might trigger a memory.”
The Twomey Family Remorial Cycles take place on Sunday, June 9.
It will be run in association with Kanturk Cycling Club. The event will include refreshments and culinary delights as well as a custom designed Twomey Family Remorial t-shirt.
For more information on the event visit www.facebook.com/TwomeyFamilyRemorialWeekend/