Tuesday 25 October 2016

Tragic teen Gemma's father: 'not an hour goes by that we don't think of her'

Gemma Nolan’s devastated parents Josephine and Jim
Gemma Nolan’s devastated parents Josephine and Jim
Gemma Nolan
Victims of Athy crash (left to right) Niamh Doyle, Aisling Middleton, Gemma Nolan, and Chermaine Carroll

The father of one of the four young friends killed in a horror road crash in January has said the message of road safety is not getting through to drivers.

Speaking as gardai launch an initiative to reduce speed on the roads, Jim Nolan said people aren't listening to road safety messages.

His daughter Gemma (19) died along with Aisling Middleton (19), Chermaine Carroll (20), and Niamh Doyle (19); when the car being driven by a 20-year-old friend collided with an oncoming van at Irishtown near the Co Kildare town of Athy on January 6.


After the impact the van burst into flames and the VW Polo the girls were in ended up off the road.

All five girls were life-long friends and past-pupils of St Leo's College in Carlow and sat their Leaving Cert there in June 2013.

While the garda investigation into the crash is ongoing and there is no suggestion that the car the girls were in was speeding, Jim Nolan said the overall road safety message is falling on deaf ears.

"Every weekend we hear about more and more road deaths, there was a lot last weekend, it seems it will never end," Jim told the Herald.

"People don't listen, and the message doesn't get through," he added.

The inquest into the deaths of Gemma, Chermaine, Niamh and Aishling opened in Naas this week and was adjourned.

Kildare county coroner Dr Denis Cusack said he could not imagine the pain and grief of all the families concerned and referred to the difficult task the families had in identifying their daughter's and sister's remains.

Evidence was given that Chermaine Carroll died from extensive cranial injuries, while Niamh, Gemma and Aisling died from multiple injuries.

Garda Inspector Paul Dolan indicated that criminal proceedings in the case had not been initiated yet.

Dr Cusack then adjourned the inquests until December for mention.

Speaking about loss of his daughter, Jim Nolan said the family are just about coping with the help of family and friends.

"You have to bear up and be realistic, but it is hard. There are memories of Gemma all the time, not an hour goes by that we don't think of her. Her loss is so hard to take in," he said.

"The opening of the inquest was handled very sensitively I must say, and we are thankful for that. What happened, happened, and it was a tragic accident," he said.

Gardai today launched national 'Slow Down Day' today, and will conduct an intensive national speed enforcement operation from 7am this morning until 7am tomorrow morning.

The initiative is supported by the Road Safety Authority and other stakeholders.

The objective of the operation is to reduce the number of speed related collisions, save lives and reduce injuries on our roads.


Last year saw another increase in road deaths, resulting in 195 fatalities.

"Excessive or inappropriate speed causes death and injury on our roads, and remains the primary contributory cause of road traffic collisions," said Superintendent Con O'Donohue of the Garda National Traffic Bureau.

"Slowing down keeps you and others around you safe on our roads, and although this is a targeted 24-hour operation, we appeal to drivers to always abide by this advice - slow down, save lives," he added.

Seven people died on Irish roads in the space of just 36 hours last weekend.

"I would urge every road user to take stock of what happened over the past few days, realise no one is invincible and always take personal responsibility for what we do, every time," Road Safety Authority boss Moyagh Murdock said.

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