Grieving widow tells of moment ‘our wonderful life ended’

Nearly 18 months on, Elber Twomey’s life still revolves around 2.46pm on July 6th, 2012

Elber twomey speaking to the press after the inquest into the crash which killed her husband Con, son Oisín, and unborn daughter Elber Marie. Photograph: Apex News

Elber twomey speaking to the press after the inquest into the crash which killed her husband Con, son Oisín, and unborn daughter Elber Marie. Photograph: Apex News


Shoulders hunched, Elber Twomey sat in the Riviera Centre in Torquay yesterday, her voice barely audible, but the words when they came had dignity.

“Up to 2.46pm on July 6th I had not a care in the world. I was on holiday with my darling husband and best friend Con, our beautiful little man, Baba Oisín, and our beautiful unborn daughter,” she said.

Moments later, she said, “our wonderful life ended” when Marek Wojciechowski, suicidal and distressed, drove his black Opel Vectra across the dual carriageway and accelerated into the Twomeys.

12 times round circuit
The 26-year-old had driven in a circuit – down the A380 Hamelin Way dual-carriageway, around the roundabout and back – 12 times in the minutes beforehand.

Despite her grief, Elber Twomey knows she is not the only person to have lost that day – that Marek Wojciechowski has left a widow, Agnieska, and children behind.

And he is “Marek”, not “Wojciechowski”, not “that man”, or the hundred other words that she could use to describe someone who changed her life irrevocably.

Through her grief, Elber Twomey is, however, angry:

“I will always be of the opinion that the manner in which the police dealt with Marek that horrific days was completely wrong.”

Devon and Cornwall Constabulary should have stopped him, she believes, using “stingers”, or other methods to bring him to a halt, not sirens, blue lights and hand signals.

“After all he was not driving erratically, he did not have his wife and children with him and he had not indicated that he would end his life using his car.

“The poor man was unwell, he was no criminal, he had not robbed a bank, or murdered anyone,” she said, choking back tears as she uttered words that few others could manage if they were in her place.

Though she did not blame PC Ben Bickford, who sat in the court to hear her words, Mrs Twomey does blame the police service, which should review how it approaches those people who are bent on suicide.

Change, if it comes, will do little to ease the loneliness in a once-noisy house in Meelin in north Cork, one that should have become noisier with the arrival of the couple’s second child.

“Regretfully, changing how the police handle cases like that of Marek will never change my life and bring back my beautiful family and the wonderful life I had.

“I loved being Baba Oisín’s Mom and I loved being Connie’s wife,” she said, while the jury who had stayed to hear her words sat, some with eyes glistening and knuckles clenched.

Lethal weapons
Cars are “lethal weapons” in the hands of those who have declared an intention to commit suicide, even if they have not said that the car would be their means of death, she went on.

“Please God,” her voice stronger now, for she had waited 18 months to speak, change will come “before another innocent family has to experience such complete loss, total heartbreak and extreme tragedy”.

Later outside, chief superintendent Jim Nye offered sympathies, but Devon and Cornwall Constabulary still believes it did its best that day.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission had investigated and cleared the police’s handling of the incident; they had acted “entirely in line” with national rules and training.

Would the outcome have been different if “a softly, softly approach” had been adopted? he was asked.

“I don’t think we’ll ever know, this was a deliberate act by a single individual,” he said.

If, God forbid, it were to happen again,would the police repeat its action of July 6th? he was asked.

“With the same evidence and the same risk assessment, yes we would.”