herald

Tuesday 15 January 2019

I forgive suicide driver who killed my whole family

elber
elber

A YOUNG Irish woman who lost her entire family to a suicidal taxi driver in the UK said she had to forgive him or face living out her life in bitterness and anger.

Elber Twomey (38) said she has devoted her life to a road safety campaign to ensure no other family endures her loss.

The Cork teacher lost her son, Oisin (16 months) and her unborn baby girl, Elber Marie, in a head-on collision in Torquay, Devon on July 6, 2012, after Polish taxi driver, Marek Wojciechowski (26), deliberately rammed their Volkswagen Golf.

Elber's husband, Con (38), died almost 10 months later from the terrible injuries he sustained in the collision.

Horrific

The young woman survived despite a horrific head injury and having to endure 19 separate operations after the accident.

The Pole had left a suicide note and was being sought by Devon police as "a high risk person".

He crashed into the Twomeys' car on the final day of their UK holiday after a Devon constable had signalled for him to pull over. Elber's campaigning has now led to changes in UK police tactics and training.

She also travelled to the Garda College in Templemore last month to be briefed on a new training regime for recruits which will include simulated high-risk scenarios.

"I don't want anyone to go through what I have suffered. If there is anything I can do to prevent that, then I will do it," she said.

Elber said she never thought she could forgive Mr Wojciechowski for what he took away from her.

"I had to find forgiveness in my heart. If I didn't I would have faced a life full of bitterness and anger," she told RTE's Today with Sean O'Rourke Show.

Elber said she bluntly refused to pray for the Polish taxi driver in September 2012 in a conversation with a priest who was a friend of the family. Three months later, she was lighting a candle for him and his family at the chapel in Cork University Hospital (CUH).

Elber said she also felt it was important to have met Mr Wojciechowski's widow, Agnieszka, to stress that she did not blame her for what happened.

"I had heard that she was blaming herself. I wanted her to know that I didn't blame her…that relationships break up all the time and this kind of thing doesn't happen," she said.

The Polish woman said her husband couldn't cope after she asked him for a separation following months of marital problems and financial pressures.

Agnieska found the note a few hours before the fatal collision and it said Mr Wojciechowski loved his two children and that he didn't blame his wife but was sorry the way things had worked out.

The couple had both worked at the local Toorak Hotel in Torquay but had been under mounting financial strain.

"At the inquest, we just hugged each other because we both lost the loves of our lives that horrific day," Elber said.

"I loved being Baba Oisín's mom and I loved being Connie's wife. But my hope is that the police will learn from our horrific story."

hnews@herald.ie

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