Road safety

A bereaved mother from Cork is taking big steps to improve road safety

A CORK woman continues to use her pain to help others, years after her entire family’s life was taken by a suicidal driver.

This weekend will mark the ninth Twomey Remorial weekend in Meelin, honoring Elber Twomey’s baby boy, Oisín, his unborn daughter, referred to as “little lady”, and her husband Con.

Funds raised will go to worthy charities including the National Rehabilitation Centre, St Joseph’s Foundation and the Thomas Hayes Trust.

The Twomeys were traveling to a play center while on holiday in Torquay on July 6, 2012, when they encountered suicidal 26-year-old taxi driver Marek Wojciechowski on the same road.

Police were looking for Marek after a suicide note was discovered. However, he deliberately rammed the car of Elber and his family after it swerved in response to police sirens.

Elber’s baby boy, Oisín, and her unborn baby were both killed in the crash.

Her husband Con’s devastating injuries from the accident led to his death at University Hospital, Cork, 10 months later.

Improvement campaign

Since then, she has campaigned for the improvement of police procedures concerning suicidal drivers. Senior British officers confirmed a series of improvements which materialized in the Devon and Cornwall police forces following Elber’s concerns. His inspirational message also inspired a module for students at 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 a horrible thing in the sense that it would have destroyed me and my mom 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 policeman, who had been assigned to pursue Marek before his death, filled her with compassion.

“It’s easy to blame a figure until you see humanity. He was just a young man who will carry this story with him for the rest of his life, even if he was not to blame.

Elber is adamant that the lives of her son, husband and unborn daughter will not have been in vain.

“The grief and pain is enough on its own, but to have that anger and blame as well would have totally destroyed me. I still recognize that they were here for a reason. I was the only voice left. For that reason, I would like to use our story to make sure 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 immense admiration for the police and Gardaí for listening to what I had to say. Our story is not something you would wish on anyone. However, sometimes positive things can come out of these horror stories happening in the world that we can only hope will save lives.It’s not about blame, it’s about change.

Call for training to continue

She asks that training continue on suicidal driver policies.

“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, the postponement of the event due to Covid made me fear that Con, Oisín and the little lady would be forgotten, but people from 21 counties and different parts of the world came together virtually to remember Con, Oisín and the little lady.

“The whole community came together for us this year. The people have been fantastic.

Elber has also retained old traditions.

“I always light a candle for Marek but especially for his wife and children. He is a strong and lovely person.”

Ms Twomey recently joined Maeve Kelly, who suffered horrific injuries in a head-on collision caused by a mentally unstable driver, on a trip to Brussels.

This was part of their campaign to improve road safety protections across Europe. The trip saw them attend a main hearing on traffic safety protocols.

“It would be nice if they considered liaising with the Ministry of Justice and perhaps bringing in police forces in different EU countries,” Ms Twomey said.

The Twomey Remorial 55k cycle will leave Rockchapel at 8.30am this Sunday and cover Duhallow, before returning via Meelin. It will follow a table quiz which will take place at 8.15pm at Quinlan’s Bar, Meelin, this Saturday.

Those present also have the opportunity to participate in a charity walk in the region at noon.

To learn more or to donate and register, visit: