A CORK woman is continuing to use her pain to help others, years after her entire family’s lives were taken by a suicidal driver.
This weekend will mark the ninth Twomey Remorial weekend in Meelin, in honour of Elber Twomey’s little boy Oisín, her unborn daughter, referred to as ‘little lady’, and husband Con.
Funds raised will contribute towards worthy charities including the National Rehabilitation Centre, St Joseph’s Foundation, and the Thomas Hayes Trust.
The Twomeys had been driving to a play centre while on holiday in Torquay on July 6, 2012, when they encountered 26-year-old suicidal taxi driver, Marek Wojciechowski, on the same road.
Police had been searching for Marek following the discovery of a suicide note. However, he deliberately crashed head-on into Elber and her family’s car after swerving in response to police sirens.
Elber’s little boy Oisín and unborn baby were both killed in the crash.
Her husband Con’s devastating injuries from the crash resulted in his death at Cork University Hospital, 10 months later.
She has been campaigning ever since for improvements in police procedures concerning suicidal drivers. Senior British officers confirmed a range of improvements that materialised in the Devon and Cornwall Police force following Elber’s concerns. Her inspiring message has also inspired a module for students of the Garda Training College in Templemore.
Elber regularly lights a candle for her husband and children, as well as for the soul of suicidal driver Marek and the family he left behind.
“Anger is an awful thing in the sense that it would have destroyed me as well as my mum and dad,” Elber said. “Forgiveness is as much for ourselves as it is for the other person.”
She recalled how seeing the face of the young police officer, who had been tasked with pursuing Marek before his death, filled her with compassion.
“It’s easy to blame a figure until you see the humanity. He was only a young man who will carry this story with him for the rest of his life, even though he wasn’t to blame.”
Elber is adamant that her son, husband and unborn daughter’s lives won’t have been in vain.
“The heartbreak and pain are enough on their own, but having that anger and blame too would have totally destroyed me. I always acknowledge that they were here for a reason. I was the only voice left behind. For this reason, I’d like to use our story to ensure this doesn’t happen to anyone else. There is no one right way to react in a situation like this, but there is definitely a wrong way. I have huge admiration for the police and Gardaí for listening to what I had to say. Our story isn’t something that you would wish on anybody. However, sometimes positives can come out of these horror stories that happen in the world, which we can only hope will save lives. This isn’t about blaming, it’s about changing.”
She is calling for training to continue in policies concerning suicidal drivers.
“The approach has the potential to benefit, not only Gardaí and police pursuing suicidal drivers, but also in a general context where a person might be near a river and contemplating suicide.”
She thanked the community for their continued support.
“Previously postponing the event because of Covid made me fear that Con, Oisín and little lady would be forgotten, but people from 21 counties and different parts of the world came together virtually to remember Con, Oisín and little lady.
“The whole community came together for us this year. People have been fantastic.”
Elber has also kept up old traditions.
“I still light a candle for Marek but particularly for his wife and kids. She is a strong and lovely person.”
Ms Twomey recently joined Maeve Kelly, who suffered terrible injuries in a head-on collision caused by a mentally unstable driver, on a trip to Brussels.
This was part of their campaign for improved road-safety protections across Europe. The trip saw them attend a keynote hearing on road safety protocols.
“It would be nice if they would consider liaising with the Department of Justice and maybe introducing police forces across different EU countries,” Ms Twomey said.
The Twomey Remorial 55k Cycle will leave Rockchapel at 8.30am this Sunday and covers Duhallow, before heading back through Meelin. It will follow a table quiz taking place at 8.15pm at Quinlan’s Bar, Meelin, this Saturday.
Those attending also have the option of taking part in a charity walk in the area at midday.
To find out more or to donate and register, visit: https://www.twomeyfamilyremorial.com/registration/