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Give yourself up - plea to heartless driver who left the father-of- two Joe McGivern for dead by roadside

Exclusive: Partner of Banbridge man who suffered horrific injuries in hit-and-run hopes letter will prick culprit's conscience

By Laura Abernethy

Published 26/07/2016

Joe McGivern, who is recovering in hospital, with Zoe
Joe McGivern, who is recovering in hospital, with Zoe
Joseph enjoying bathtime with their daughter Ella-Rose and baby son Reuben
Zoe McAvoy with her children Ella-Rose and Reuben
Zoe McAvoy at home in Banbridge. She is appealing for help in finding the hit-and-run driver who knocked down her partner
Joseph and Zoe McGivern

The family of a man left lying by the side of a road with horrific injuries have appealed for witnesses to come forward to help them find the person responsible for the hit-and-run.

Joseph 'Joe' McGivern was struck by a vehicle on the main Carlingford to Newry road in the early hours of July 15.

Just hours earlier the 28-year-old and his girlfriend Zoe McAvoy (25) - who have two children, 22-month-old Ella-Rose and nine-week-old son Reuben - were celebrating with friends at a wedding.

As the reception came to a close, Joe decided to go for a walk, but was hit by a car and left badly injured by the side of the road.

The Banbridge man can remember vehicles flying past, clipping his arm as he lay on the ground unable to move, as both his legs were broken.

He could only watch when another car drove towards him and he was run over a second time before the vehicle dragged him along the road for a few metres.

Luckily, the second driver stopped and was able to call the emergency services.

Zoe said: "Thank God he stopped. If he hadn't, who knows how long he would have been there. He could have lay there and been hit by more cars or died before he got help.

"It is horrible to think that someone could just drive on. I wouldn't leave a dog by the side of the road, so how could someone leave him?"

Joe was rushed to Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry before being transferred to the intensive care unit of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

Zoe, who was still at the hotel, had to wait hours to get to her boyfriend as police were unaware she was in Carlingford and, when she heard the news, the road to Newry was blocked.

"It was a frantic few hours and it was a total nightmare. They went to his mother's door and told her and she let me know, but it took a few hours for me to get to him. That was hard," she said.

When she reached the hospital she found Joe had broken almost every bone from head to toe.

He fractured a bone in his neck, had two broken vertebrae in his back, his pelvis was broken, he had fractured his chest bone and a few ribs, and both his legs were broken.

He also had internal bleeding that has led to further complications and he has undergone a number of emergency surgeries over the last few days.

Zoe explained: "He's been so lucky that he doesn't have any brain damage. Every doctor keeps telling us that they don't understand how he's still alive after that. It's horrible that this has happened but I feel lucky that it wasn't so much worse."

On Sunday he was moved out of intensive care and on to a high dependency ward, but faces a long recovery and may need further surgery.

Zoe said: "He is starting to look a bit better but he has a long road ahead. He needs time to heal but we hope he will be okay and he will be able to walk again.

"It's going to be a waiting game. He will be in hospital for a while and I'm just grateful for each little step forward. At the minute I'd just like to see him moved to a normal ward."

Zoe has been devastated by the collision, and now has to split her time between caring for their two children and sitting by Joe's bedside. Friends and family have rallied round to help the young couple cope.

"It's been very, very hard," she said. "I'm there from 2 o'clock every day and I have to leave the kids behind.

"It's difficult spending so much time away from them at the minute, and Joe isn't able to see them. They can't be in the hospital and I need to be there. It's had a terrible impact on us all."

Joe, who is a tiler, may not be able to work again because of his injuries.

Zoe is currently on maternity leave from her job as a hairdresser in Banbridge.

"He won't be able to work for a long time and might never be able to tile again, so that's another worry for us," Zoe explained.

The family are now desperately appealing for witnesses in a bid to try to find the person who knocked Joe down and drove on.

They have written an emotional online letter to the driver - the post has already been shared thousands of times.

The letter reads: "Dear hit & run driver, When you hit Joseph and left him to die on the road, did you think about him lying there?

"Did you realise that he was so broken he could only lie there and watch as a second vehicle ran him over again??

"When you got up the next morning and went to have your breakfast did you think about him lying in the hospital with horrific leg and pelvis injuries?

"When you swallowed your breakfast did you think about him with lots of internal bleeding and a crushed chest? When you got back into your car that morning did you think about him lying there with a broken back?

"When you drove to work did you look around at the view? Joseph couldn't because you broke his neck. Joseph has a daughter of 22 months and a son at 10 weeks old but he isn't like you because he can't work now to provide for his family and he will not work for a long time. I want you to keep thinking about Joseph and his wee family every time you close your eyes. Our blessing has been that Joseph has no brain damage and he can remember quite a bit of what happened that night and we have been told that what he cannot remember now will come back to him.

"May I suggest you ease your conscience and his family's pain by handing yourself into the police before they come to your door as they did to his mother's."

Zoe said they have been touched by the support from so many strangers who have shared the post but, sadly, no one has been able to help.

"This has been very difficult and we just want someone to come forward," Zoe said. "There has to be someone who knows something about what happened. The driver might have told someone or even someone who saw damage to a vehicle or anything that can help. I would just like them to go to the police and that bit of information could help find who did this."

A spokesman for An Garda Siochana said: "Gardai at Carlingford are investigating a road traffic collision which occurred at around 3.50am on July 15 at North Commons, Carlingford, Co Louth.

"No arrests have been made and no further injuries were reported to Gardai.

"Anyone with information can contact Garda at Carlingford station on 042 9373102, or the Garda Confidential Line is 1800 666 111."

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