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What Happened?

As we drove home we were hit from behind by a souped up car driven by a 24 year old who was a named driver on his mothers insurance, he hit us a second time and we ended up on the other side of the dual carriageway where we were hit by an oncoming car. Justin died instantly and myself and my other son were seriously injured.

I regained consciousness as we were being cut from the car by the emergency services. There were people standing around watching from a distance. My two sons were taken to one hospital and I was taken to another ten miles away from them.

I am not getting into the details of the moments except to say that we felt Justin's energy leave us and we cried out for him. It was as though someone reached in, grabbed my heart and pulled it.

I have a vague memory of the ambulance and the crew as they worked on me on the journey to the hospital, just a brief moment is all I can recall. I remember no pain, just numbness and a sense of not really being present. I remember a brief moment later that evening when my husband came to see me and our conversation.

A week or so later when I regained consciousness in Intensive Care I thought it was the same day as the accident. I was unaware that days had passed but I was very aware of the deep emptiness, the huge void in my heart. I screamed for my son's.

In the days and weeks that followed I recall the sense that I did not want to be in this world, I wanted to stay in the "other place" with Justin. I sensed that we spoke about what I should do, and in the end I agreed that I would return, that it was not my time. None of these conversations were concrete words, they were more like thoughts. There was no effort, no human feelings as such, just a feeling of peace and love.

My recollection was further when I was told that the day I regained consciousness was the day Justin was buried, I came became conscious just about the time that his human remains were been escorted through the cemetery gates, surrounded by all his friends and the people who love him. He had a police escort on his final journey as a mark of respect for him. As I began to come through one of my sisters sat with me.

Several days after I was discharged from ICU into a general hospital room my sister was with me, we had the radio on low in the background. A song playing in the background got my attention, it was Whitney Houston singing "I Will Always Love You". I crumpled in a heap and sobbed like a baby. My sister related to me how in all the days she had sat beside me in Intensive Care she had never noticed a radio playing low in the background. Just about the time Justin was being escorted into the cemetery, she noticed a song on the radio, it was the same song. It was very interesting to hear this because I got a sense that Justin was protected and I had stayed with him, he stayed with me, during that first week and now that we had said our farewell, see "you around" he was stamping our temporary parting with the song.

I eventually returned home at the end of September, I dreaded the day because it was another step in having to accept the reality of what had happened.

The legal aspect of the tragedy unfolded in a haze of grief and pain. I was informed by the initial solicitor hired by my family in my absence that he was having great difficulty in getting access to the car driven by the other driver to have an accessor examine it. The driver informed my solicitor that he was a sales man and was away from the city more than he was in it. So the solicitor waited and waited for the guy to contact him as soon as he had any time in Dublin.

Finally in November the solicitor told me he had called the guy and told him an assessor would be at his house the next morning first thing and the reply he got was "sorry mate but the car is been sold in the morning". The assessor did get to examine the car eventually as the solicitor said he would get a court order. It was around this time that it was revealed to me that the driver was driving as a named driver on his mother insurance and that he was in fact a pizza delivery man in his local area not a sales rep as he had stated.

Then there was the inquest. I had several phone calls from the police dealing with the case late in the evening to pass on information about the inquest date or about the director of prosecutions decision not to prosecute anyone in relation to the case. It was very upsetting to say the least to receive phone calls at 10.30pm at night about the case. I thought it was very unethical of a professional body to allow such calls to be made so late at night. It came to the stage where if the phone rang late at night I was afraid to answer it because of who might be on the other end and what they might be saying. It took a lot out of me, it was difficult enough trying to settle my mind to go to sleep without phone calls from strangers about my son and the accident.

The first Christmas was very difficult for us all. We celebrated the life that was lived by Justin and decorated a tree just like we always did. A few weeks after the holidays another sister casually told me that she had visited a friend of hers in Co. Meath in the days following Christmas day. Her friend told her that the guy who was involved in the accident had turned up in a garage owned by a policeman friend of hers within days of the accident looking to have repairs done. It was said that he was obvious because he called to the garage early in the morning with a child strapped into a child seat and when he was told they were busy and it could be a few hours before they got to do the work on his car he just sat around waiting with little thought for the infant.

From the moment I saw the car in my rear view mirror I sensed something about the driver. I saw the car before it hit me. That feeling remained despite the fact that I refused to be angry about the driver of the other car because to me it was just giving him more of my energy than he deserved. A court date was set to "determine liability". In the days leading up to that court hearing I received information that the driver of the other car had served time for a vicious assault on a policeman, this confirmed for me the sense of darkness I got that day when I saw him drive straight at me with no attempt to avoid hitting me.

In court the driver and his passenger were called to the stand one after the other. My son was to be a witness for me but out of the blue it was decided that he would not take the stand. This decision was taken without consulting either my son or I.

People who were in the vicinity of the accident took the stand. One woman who was driving a car on the inside lane at the time of the impact said I was driving erratically and between cars. I was told that another witness known to acquaintances of mine felt he was not allowed to have his say in court and he had related to these acquaintances how he knew something was going to happen when he saw the souped up car with the blacked out windows. I was told that this chap was very distressed by what he witnessed that day and could not attend work for weeks.

Basically the court hearing was a sham. I left before the Judge gave his decision because I was feeling unwell and distressed. The outcome was that the Judge said that the incident was a sheer accident but for insurance purposes he had to find fault with someone and that someone was me. I was the most injured that day with long term disability. I was also told that the Judge said I should have braked rather than accelerating to try get away from the car I saw coming into the back of me. I can only repeat what I was told as I was not there. Sometimes I regret not having stayed for the full hearing but I am of the opinion that this would not have changed anything in the ruling.

Life has moved on and I have learnt to live with the events of 1995 but I still question why certain things happened and why people acted like the did. I have drawn my own conclusions from the events and I will write about them some day.

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