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VIDEO: 'I lost my everybody' - Hamelin Way death crash widow

By ColleenSmith  |  Posted: December 03, 2013

  • Elber Twomey

  • Con and Elber Twomey

Comments (6)

THE mother who lost her entire family in the Hamelin Way death crash told the Torquay inquest: 'I lost my everybody'.

Elber Twomey bravely told her story through tears in an effort to make sure that changes are made in police training and procedures when dealing with suicidal drivers.

In a statement she said: "Up to 2.46pm on July 6 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 Oisin and our beautiful unborn daughter. At 2.47pm our wonderful life ended."

The two-car head-on collision happened in July 2012 after a suicidal taxi driver drove into the Irish Twomey family's car on the final day of their holiday in Devon.

The crash claimed the lives of her husband, son and unborn daughter,as well as that of taxi driver Marek Wojciechowski.

Police were treating Mr Wojciechowski as a high-risk missing person at the time, and a police car with its siren on and blue lights flashing had been speeding to catch up with him and signal him to stop.

Sixteen-month old Oisin Twomey died in the crash; his father Con died 10 months later in May this year in hospital in Cork.

Elber suffered serious head injuries. She was 24 weeks pregnant and she lost the baby daughter she was carrying.

Mrs Twomey said: "I will always be of the opinion that the manner in which the police dealt with Marek that horrific day was completely wrong.

"To my absolute horror the Independent Police Complaints Commission report into our crash states that 'no learning outcomes or organisational learning was identified'. "I totally reject this finding."

She told the court that Marek "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.

"So then why the following at speed, the activation of the siren, the blue lights flashing and finally the hand gestures (telling him to stop)?"

She added: "Marek had driven 11 circuits around Hamelin Way that day without doing anything wrong. Who knows. Had the police not intervened, Marek could have just got tired of driving and gone home, or gone to a friend or ran out of fuel."

She believes that the flashing and sirens or the police car caused him to panic and called for the introduction of a new principal of 'least intrusion until stingers and a safe location to stop can be utilised'.

"Please God these will be in place before another innocent family has to experience such complete loss, total heartbreak and extreme tragedy."

She concluded: "While I don't blame the police officer involved personally for my tragic story, I do blame the police service. I do believe that the police service needs to review their handling of how

they deal with a missing person who is known to have left a suicide note.

"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 Oisin's mom and I loved being Connie's wife."

Marek Wojciechowski's widow Agnieska, who lives in Torquaywith two young daughters, also called for changes in the light of the tragedy.

She said: "No-one should have to go through this. I just hope that in the future, lessons can be learnt about how people who are at risk of suicide are handled.

"I have lost my husband and my friend and my children have lost their father. We all loved him so much and miss him and pray for him every day."

Her thoughts, sympathy and prayers were also with the Twomey family.

The 10-man jury spent nearly five hours reaching their verdicts.

They found that Marek Wojciechowski died of multiple injuries as a result of deliberately driving his car into the path of another in an attempt to commit suicide.

Oisin died of head and neck injuries as a result of 'the deliberate action of Marek Wojciechowski who whilst driving down the A380 Hamelin Way, suddenly steered his car across the road and

accelerated into oncoming traffic in an attempt to commit suicide".

After the verdict Torbay and South Devon coroner Ian Arrow also called for change. He said he would be writing to the Association of Chief

Police Officers calling for changes in the way vulnerable, suicidal drivers are dealt with.

He also over-ruled a police attempt to stop Mrs Twomey reading out her statement in full to the court.

Earlier in his summing up at the end of the four-day hearing, Mr Arrow went back over the evidence of drivers who were witnesses, and of Pc Ben Bickford, the police response officer who spotted the taxi on the opposite carriageway.

Mr Arrow said: "Pc Bickford explained how he saw a black Vectra and 'on a hunch' turned on his lights to catch up with him.

"His intention was to stop the car and he told how he gave hand signals. At that point the Vectra was slowing down. Suddenly he then accounted how it shot off away from him."

Mr Arrow also reviewed the evidence of a police accident investigator which showed that the impact had happened up against the crash barrier: "Mr Twomey had done everything he could to avoid the

collision. "

Outside the court Susie Colley, whose Torre and Upton Community Partnership group co-ordinated the £3,000 fundraising campaign for the families involved, talked about the effects of the crash on Friday July 6 on the people of Torbay.

She said: "As a mother, to lose one child was bad enough, but to lose your unborn child and then later for Mrs Twomey to lose her husband, it's beyond belief.

"It was shocking at the time and it still doesn't bear thinking about. It was horrendous and unbelievable to hear such tragic news. The Hamelin Way crash affected everybody locally. Obviously there was nothing people could do to help repair the distress, but the fund was

just a way to show both bereaved families that we were thinking about them."

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6 comments

  • Johnstar  |  December 03 2013, 7:41PM

    The policeman knowing the polish man was suicidal should have used extreme caution. The police need to have a policy for dealing with a suicidal person in future. He should have only been approached when the vehicle was stopped or in slow moving traffic. I am very angry that the police have just dismissed this and are not going to learn from their mistakes

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  • miniman1  |  December 03 2013, 10:39AM

    While my heart goes out to this woman and the policeman involved, hindsight is a wonderful thing. I guess if the policeman had acted differently with the same result we would be questioning why he wasn't stopped earlier. I'm sure the police will learn from this, but i'm also sure that the experts will agree that no two suicidal minds work alike. Just how does one legislate for this?

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  • bathshebatoss  |  December 02 2013, 5:18PM

    Suzy Colley gets included in every little story the Herald can find. No one wants her as Mayor, get used to it the Herald.

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  • beingblonde  |  December 02 2013, 3:37PM

    Very poor spelling in this article.... misuse of the words "there" and "their" in paragraphs 3 and 11. Come on Herald sort it out, it's basic english!

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