By Olivia Kelleher
A family of six who endured horrendous injuries after their car was involved in a crash when a car ploughed in to the them from the wrong side of the road have called on motorists not to drink and drive.
Mary Bermingham said the memory of the horrific crash on December 4th, 2016 has never left her. The driver of the other car which had crossed over to the wrong side of the road was killed along with his two passengers after their car burst into flames following the crash on the N72 outside Dungarvan, Co Waterford.
The young driver had a blood alcohol concentration of 221mg as well as having traces of cocaine and other drugs in his system. The legal limit is 50mg. Their car went on fire following the crash and the three men had to be identified by comparing their DNA with samples from family members.
Mary Bermingham spoke to the Neil Prendeville Show on Cork's Red FM about the incident.
She said that she and her partner, Gary Fenton, still suffer from chronic pain arising out of the crash and that the trauma never leaves you.
"With the force they hit us the steering wheel had bent completely in half. I head all the kids screaming. I had my nine year old telling me she couldn't see. I couldn't physically turn around. The car was filled with smoke. It was the most horrible smell I ever had in my life. I really thought our own car was going to blow up. The other car went on fire with the impact."
Ms Bermingham said she was en-route from Cork to Waterford for a Christmas outing when they were hit by the other car. She and her partner Gary and their children Chloe (17), Thomas (15), Annalee (10) and Abbie (9) cheated death in the crash.
Lisa said her youngest daughter Abbie climbed through from the back of the car and took off their seat belts.
"I remember asking Gary 'Is the car on fire?' Gary was unconscious. My youngest daughter, who was then seven, was saying that it was the car behind us that was on fire.
"It was about five months again before I walked. I have had chronic pain since. We are trying to make the best of it."
Ms Bermingham said she thought they were going to die in the crash.
"When the emergency services came I felt a lash of water come from behind and I was relieved. Because the kids were so serious they were taking them first. I was left the last. It felt like three hours. When I looked at Gary he was slumped over the wheel and the steering wheel was bent in half. He wasn't speaking. He was foaming at the mouth."
The family incurred numerous injuries in the crash including torn intestines and spleen, broken collarbones, fractured vertebrae in the spine, broken ribs and internal bleeding. Lisa has undergone two surgeries to her legs whilst Gary still uses crutches.
Lisa says the children are nervous since the crash and tend to avoid driving with others. She has pleaded with motorists not to drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
We could have gone with them if our car ignited we would have went as well. To get behind a wheel. He (the driver) shouldn't have able to stand let alone drive."
The Bermingham family were recently treated to a trip to Disneyland with Cork City Hospital's Children's Club. She thanked them for their support.
Ms Bermingham has appealed to drivers to exercise caution on the roads saying that nobody sets out to kill anybody. The men who passed away in the crash were driver Eamon Dixon (22) of Dungarvan, and passengers Kenneth O'Sullivan (39) and Michael Tobin (38).
Separately, gardai are having a road safety day this Friday. They will conduct a national speed enforcement operation "Slow Down”, supported by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and other stakeholders, for a 24 hour period.
The objective is to reduce the number of speed related collisions, save lives and reduce injuries on our roads. The aim of "Slow Down day” is to remind drivers of the dangers of speeding, increase compliance with speed limits and act as a deterrent to driving at excessive or inappropriate speed.
As a general rule a 1% reduction in average speed will bring about a 4% reduction in fatal collisions, and this is why reducing motorists’ speed is essential to improving road safety.
Chief Superintendent Finbarr Murphy, Roads Policing Bureau said the day is about making our roads and our communities safer.
"When someone decides to speed they put members of their community at risk, including children, older people, cyclists and other motorists. Nobody has the right to do that."