Victim of Torquay suicide driver campaigns for better garda training

Elber Twomey
Elber Twomey

By Shelley Marsden

THE victim of a suicidal driver has called on garda to be given better training when dealing with suicidal people.

In 2012 Elber Twomey lost her husband Con, her young son Oisin and her unborn daughter while on holiday in Torquay, when a taxi driver deliberately drove across a dual carriageway and smashed into them after writing a suicide note.

Ms Twomey is campaigning for the introduction of policies and training for Gardaí dealing with suicidal people, and discussed the issue recently when she met Ireland’s Minister for Justice, France Fitzgerald TD.

Fine Gael Party Chairperson and President of the Irish Association of Suicidology, Dan Neville TD, called Elber a remarkable young woman who was working to bring attention to the fact that very few Gardai in Ireland are trained in how to deal with a suicidal person, never mind a suicidal driver.

Since January 1st of this year, the Devon and Cornwall police have reviewed their pursuit policy in instances where suicide may be a factor.

Mr Neville said: “The inquest into the deaths of Con, Oisín and Elber Marie found that the actions of the police officers were, in effect, like running up to someone standing on the edge of a cliff, blowing a whistle and shouting at them to move away. In other words, training for police officers would have vastly improved the way they dealt with the driver.”

Elber and Con on their wedding day
Elber and Con on their wedding day

“As Templemore opens its doors to the first recruits in five years, I appealed to the Minister for Justice to ensure that updated training modules on suicide awareness and dealing with suicidal people, are included for the new cohort.

“Gardaí are on the front line, they are at the scene of incidents and they deliver the worst news imaginable. It is essential that we provide the Gardaí with the knowledge and support they need in dealing with these situations.

“Elber is adamant that she does not want to see anybody else losing their family as she has. Her thoughts are also with the wife of the driver, who she knows was suffering from mental illness.”

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