‘The knock on the door is the worst thing’, says father of killed 16-year-old

“That phone call or that knock on your door, believe me, it’s the worst thing you can ever imagine,” said Leo Lieghio whose 16-year-old daughter was killed in a hit-and-run in 2005.

“It’s gut-wrenching. It’s something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy,” he added.

He was speaking at a vigil outside Leinster House yesterday organised by the Irish Road Victims’ Association (IRVA).

The vigil coincided with a new bill that Transport Minister Shane Ross presented to Cabinet, which proposes a mandatory driving ban on motorists convicted of being over the alcohol limit.

“We’re not trying to reduce the drink-driving limits, we’re just trying to increase the penalty — put a proper deterrent out there to try and save lives,” said Mr Lieghio.

“It’s too late for our families and kids. My own daughter was killed in a
hit-and-run and it’s too late. It’s not a question of revenge, what we are trying to do is save future children’s lives, family members, loved ones.”

The father-of-four outlined the details of his daughter’s death.

“I got a phone call that night just after she was knocked down. She was knocked clean out of her runners to the height of the traffic lights.

“We got down there and they were putting Marsia on the stretcher. She survived a week in Tallaght and Beaumont hospitals before we had to turn off her life-support machine on her sister’s birthday,” he said.

He argues that the bill, if passed, will not affect people’s ability to socialise.

“We’re not trying to stop people from socialising. You can socialise over a cup of coffee or a game of cards like I do. Where is it written in the Constitution that when you go to a pub you must have alcohol in your system? It’s not there,” he said.

Mr Lieghio said that while his anger has passed, his grief has not, and a song on the radio or driving past his daughter’s school is enough to upset him.

“My kids brought me away for my birthday at the weekend to Newcastle and although it was probably the best birthday I ever had, there was still part of me missing.

“If she had have been there it would have just made it perfect,” he said.

Donna Price, who set up the IRVA, also lost a child on Irish roads.

“I lost my son Darren in a road crash in 2006. He was driving to college and he was in collision with a lorry and he was killed instantly.

"So we set up the Irish Road Victims’ Association to provide information and support to families who are affected, who have lost a loved one on the roads — helping them to deal with the Garda investigation, the coroner’s inquest and the DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions], court cases that kind of thing,” she said.

“We are appealing to our public representatives to accept the evidence put forward to them by the Road Safety Authority and medical evidence and to support this legislation,” she added.


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