Tribute paid to woman who lost family in Devon road crash
Elber Twomey has shown ‘great dignity and courage’ following deaths, inquest hears
Elber Twomey thanked the ‘politicians, charities, the media and ordinary Irish and British people’ who have supported her campaign for road safety in a statement following the inquest into her husband’s death in Cork today. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Cork Courts
A warm tribute has been paid by a coroner to a woman for her campaigning work to increase awareness of suicide risk after she lost entire family when a suicide driver ploughed into their car while they were on holiday in the UK.
Cork City coroner Dr Myra Cullinane expressed her admiration for teacher Elber Twomey (37) from Meelin in North Cork who lost her 16-month-old son, Oisin, her unborn baby Elber Marie and her husband, Con in the horrific car crash in Devon in the summer of 2012.
The tragedy happened when Polish man Marek Wojciechowski (26) drove onto the wrong side of the road and crashed into the Twomey family car after police signalled to him to stop upon discovering he had left a suicide note.
After a jury in Cork returned a narrative verdict at an inquest into the death of Con Twomey (39) who died at Cork University Hospital on May 3rd 2013, Dr Cullinane said she wished to place on record her deepest condolences to Ms Twomey on her loss.
“People have been aware and greatly moved by the unspeakable tragedy you have suffered and the loss of your beautiful Oisin, your husband Con and your unborn daughter, Elber Marie,” said Dr Cullinane.
“You have shown great dignity and courage in dealing with your loss and I wish to commend you on your selfless work in the area of suicide risk awareness to ensure that no other family has to go the dreadful experience that you have gone through.”
Dr Cullinane wished Ms Twomey well in particular with a planned “remorial” for her family on the weekend of June 6th to 8th where she hopes to raise €50,000 for suicide prevention charities including Suicide Aware Cork, Inspire Ireland, 3Ts and Pieta House.
Today’s inquest heard how the Twomey family were on the last day of a holiday in Devon and were driving to catch a ferry back to Ireland when Polish taxi driver Marek Wojciechowski deliberately rammed their VW Golf on Hamelin Way near Torquay.
Dr Cullinane read out details of an inquest into the deaths of Oisin and Mr Wojciechowski held by Torbay and South Deven coroner Ian Arrow in November 2013 to assist the Cork jury return a verdict in Mr Twomey’s inquest.
She told how at 2.23pm on July 6th 2012, police in Devon issued a communication to all units that Mr Wojciechowski was a high risk missing person. Eleven minutes later, they issued a second communication that he was suicidal after the discovery of a suicide note.
Mr Wojciechowski was spotted driving his Vauxhall Vectra by a police officer on patrol but he failed to stop despite the officer put on his siren and flashing lights and signalling to him to stop on Hamelin Way.
Witnesses told how Mr Wojciechowski steered his Vauxhall Vectra across the road and accelerated, crashing into the Twomeys’ VW Golf, resulting in his own death, that of 16-month-old Oisin, the loss of unborn baby Elber Marie and serious injuries to both Mr and Ms Twomey.
Mr Twomey, who suffered serious brain injuries as well as broken ribs, a collapsed lung and abdominal injuries, spent over a month at Derriford Hospital in Devon before he was transferred back to Cork University Hospital on August 8th 2012.
His condition deteriorated on October 1st 2012 and surgery was undertaken to relieve pressure on his brain. His condition failed to improve and he died seven months later at CUH on May 3rd 2013, the inquest heard.
A medical report from neurosurgeon Dr Michael O’Sullivan revealed Mr Twomey died from chronic intestinal failure due to traumatic perforation of the ileum, in association with traumatic brain injury and multiple bone injuries due to a road traffic collision.
After the inquest, Ms Twomey issued a statement in which she told of how difficult the past two years have been before expressed her gratitude to everyone who had supported her campaign to increase awareness of the risk of suicide.
“This has been a very difficult two years for me and I would appeal to the media to please respect my privacy at this time of my husband’s inquest.
“I am grateful to all those including politicians, charities, the media and ordinary Irish and British people who have helped support my campaign for greater road safety and enhanced training resources for An Garda Siochana so that no other family has to ensure the terrible loss that I have suffered.
“I especially wish to thank my family and Con’s family for their incredible support. I wish to remember my ‘beauties’ - Con, Oisin and Elber Marie - as they were before that July day and do not feel it is appropriate to comment about them at this time.
“To suitably remember them, we have organised a special remembrance event, a ’remorial’ so to speak, in North Cork on June 6th to 8th which I would urge people to support in whatever way they can,” she said in the statement.