A victim impact statement written by parents of a deceased young boy should be compulsory reading for anyone considering drink driving, a Circuit Court Judge has said.
Judge Keenan Johnson was speaking after hearing a statement written by Ronan and Gillian Treacy at Portlaoise Circuit Court today. The couple lost their four year old son Ciaran following a car collision at Ballymorris, Portlaoise on April 17, 2014.
Mrs Treacy, who was severely injured in the crash, has undergone ten operations and may yet lose the lower part of one of her legs.
Finbarr O'Rourke (40), Laurel Drive, Portlaoise admitted to a charge of dangerous driving causing death in relation to the crash. The court heard he had consumed between eight and ten pints on the day of the accident.
The head-on collision occurred as Mrs Treacy was returning home to Portarlington with her sons Ciaran (4) and Sean, then seven, after spending a day with their grandparents in Stradbally, Co Laois.
She told gardai the other driver "appeared to be slumped over the wheel" just prior to the collision. He was arrested as he walked away from the scene a short time later.
Mrs Treacy had to be cut from the car and her husband Ronan arrived on the scene having been alerted to the accident.
"We both had to look on at our two sons on the side of the road, Sean being comforted while Ciaran was being resuscitated.
"The look of horror and disbelief on his face told me that our lives were falling apart," the statement read.
"After an hour of the firemen cutting me from the car, all this time I was watching the panic and fear etched on their faces while they tried to free me from the car and as they worked on me and both my boys,"the statement continued.
"Sean and Ciaran were taken to Portlaoise hospital, while I was taken to Tullamore Hospital. I constantly asked the medical staff, was there any update on Sean and Ciaran, but I was so critical they could not tell me about Ciaran’s death.
"I was brought to theatre for my first of ten surgeries in the early hours of Friday April 18th.
"Hours later I woke up but was being supported by a ventilator. Ronan and his brother Fergus arrived shortly after I woke, unable to speak because of tubes down my throat, the only way I could communicate was to make the letter ‘C’ with my finger on the sheet.
"It was then that Ronan confirmed what I already knew in my heart; that Ciaran didn’t make it.
"My whole life was shattered and my heart was broken when my worst nightmare had been confirmed," the statement explained.
"Early Saturday Ciaran was brought to me on a stretcher. I tried to hold him on my best side with total disbelief, none of this made any sense.
"I spent that night with Ciaran, talking to him and making the most of our final hours together. I spoke to God about Ciaran’s favourite toys, food, colour and all the things that made him unique.
"My injuries were two fractured ankles, a compound fracture to my left leg, a fractured pelvis and hip, a fractured elbow and sternum, but the worst injury was the pain which came from my broken heart.
"Ciaran was taken from me on Sunday morning to be waked in our home. That was the last time I saw our little boy. I attended Ciaran’s funeral by ambulance, on a trolley with the aid of two paramedics and an ICU nurse.
"It was a day that no parent should have to endure, seeing their child’s coffin, their families devastated with grief and sadness," the statement continued.
The court heard Mr O'Rourke had been drinking in Portarlington with a friend on the day of the collision. After visiting a number of pubs, the separated father of two had a disagreement with his friend and decided to leave in his car.
He took to the stand and said he left the scene of the accident because he "panicked".
Mr O'Rourke recalled smashing his head through a window at the garda station when he heard Ciaran had passed away.
"I would give my life, I never went out to hurt anybody that day," he said.
"I just didn't think, I just jumped into the car," he added.
Judge Johnson said the victim impact statement should be compulsory reading for anyone considering drink driving. He described it as a fitting testimony to Ciaran and he remanded Mr O'Rourke in custody for sentencing next Tuesday.