Couple still in critical condition after crash
PRAYERS WERE offered at Masses in north Cork yesterday for a primary school teacher and her husband who lost their 18-month-old son and unborn child in a crash in Devon, England.
Elber and Con Twomey, of Meelin, Co Cork, are critically ill after a head-on collision at Hamelin Way in Torquay, Devon, shortly before 3pm on Friday.
Elber Twomey’s parents, Timmy and Rita, have flown to England to be at their daughter’s bedside. Con Twomey’s sisters, an uncle and cousins have also made the journey to the hospital.
Special prayers will be offered at 8pm Mass in Rockchapel, Co Cork, this evening for the family.
The Twomeys were travelling in their VW Golf car when the collision occurred. The 20-year-old male Polish driver of the second car, a black Vauxhall Vectra, was arrested at the scene but later died in hospital. He was based in Britain.
Mr and Ms Twomey lost their son Oisín in the crash. The toddler celebrated his first birthday last February.
Doctors at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth operated on Elber (36) but were unable to save her unborn child. It is understood she was five months pregnant.
Con Twomey (39) underwent emergency surgery and remains in intensive care. The couple were on holiday in the United Kingdom when the collision occurred.
The road where the crash took place was closed for 10 hours and 25 emergency vehicles attended the scene along with three air ambulances.
It is understood the car driven by the Polish man swerved into the Twomeys’ vehicle.
Fr Dave Herlihy, of Newmarket Parish in Co Cork, concelebrated Elber and Con’s wedding ceremony a few years ago. He spoke yesterday of the great love the couple share.
“They are a young couple full of the joys of life and living life to the fullest.
“They lived here for a year and a half after they got married while they were waiting for their house to be built. It is just a terrible, terrible accident.”
Elber Twomey is a popular teacher at the Convent of Mercy National School in Kanturk. Con works as a building contractor.
Mrs Twomey grew up in Rockchapel, Co Cork, but moved to her husband’s native Meelin following their marriage. The couple are enthusiastic GAA supporters.
A spokeswoman for Meelin GAA, Bridie Murphy, said it was a “nightmare” scenario for any family. “It is a desperate tragedy. Con played for Meelin up to five or six years and he is a good hurler; he is one of our big supporters. They are one of the nicest couples you would meet. So friendly and so outgoing. But in the last year-and-a-half their new son, of course, was their focus.
“They planned the holiday around the child thinking it would be easier to bring the car than go on a sun holiday.
“They rented for two years in Newmarket after they got married and moved into their home here about a year and a half ago. It is so upsetting.”
Local Fianna Fáil TD Michael Moynihan said locals were struggling to absorb the enormity of what had happened.
“It is horrific. It is desperate. They had one child and one on the way, and life was good for them. It is beyond words.
“It will have an effect all over the place because the wife works in the school and they are well known.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs said all family members in Ireland had now been notified. Family liaison officers have been appointed to support the families of those affected.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission in the UK is looking into the incident because an officer witnessed it. His vehicle was not in pursuit of either car at the time of the collision.
The serious collision investigation unit and the major crime investigation team are conducting a joint inquiry into the crash.
The cause of the collision is as yet unknown. Police say adverse weather conditions being experienced throughout the UK did not contribute to the cause of the collision.
A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said this was an extremely traumatic incident where emergency services gave medical attention to the family at the scene and subsequently in ambulances and at the hospital.
“It was a head-on collision at speed. The black Vectra was coming down the hill and appears to have swerved into the path of the oncoming car.
“The members of the family are in a critical, life-threatening condition.
“This was a really traumatic incident for the emergency services, especially with a young child involved.”