Six-hundred Transition year school students from County Kildare have heard the trauma and tragic circumstances in which a 16-year-old girl was killed following a hit-and-run incident in Clondalkin, West Dublin.
Leo Liegio, told students the raw grief he and his family have suffered over the past 13 years since his daughter Marsia’s death.
Mr. Liegio was speaking at the Kildare County Council and AXA Road Safety roadshow at the Keadeen Hotel in Newbridge this morning, Tuesday December 18.
The students also heard from a garda, fire-fighter and an ambulance paramedic on their experiences while attending a serious or fatal road traffic collision.
Kildare County Council’s Road Safety, Cycling and Sustainable Transport Officer Declan Keogh said the roadshow is targeted at 4th and 5th year students, in an effort to change their attitude to being ‘invincible’.
“Marsia Liegio was just 16 years old when she died as a pedestrian, most of these students attending this show are of the same age. It hits home to them the harsh reality of what can happen in the worst and most tragic circumstances and our aim is to change that ‘I am invincible’ attitude which many young people have while using the road, but also to prepare them for their journey as drivers and enforce the crucial lessons and message which road safety brings," he said.
"No training will ever prepare you for that" explained Garda Liam Holohan of the Roads Policing Unit in Naas as he recalls the "gut-wrenching feeling" he gets every time while responding to a fatal collision.
“It’s what we are trained for and what we prepare for, but when you are standing on a road; seeing those horrific scenes, no training will ever prepare you for that, it’s just horrible. People often give out about the guards carrying our speed checks or alcohol or drug tests, but when you see what we see or when you have to knock on someone’s door to tell them the worst news ever, that’s why we do it, that’s why it’s needed," he said.
Clare Germaine is a Driver/Fire-fighter at Kildare Fire Service and is stationed in Athy.
“When I’m driving to the scene on blue lights, I don’t get time to think about what’s facing us, neither do the other fire-fighters who are preparing for their arrival at the crash. There’s always a bit of banter on the way to a call, and we all know what our job is and we go do it, but coming back to the station after a bad one is awful, that’s when the rush is off and the emergency is over. There is silence on the fire truck. Every fire-fighter is thinking the same, probably recalling those eerie screams, reliving that bloody scene, and it never gets easier. How can it, when these types of collisions continue to happen?," she asked.
Paramedic Michael Rodgers.has been with the National Ambulance Service for many years, and has witnessed some awful scenes during his career as a paramedic.
His biggest gripe about collisions is how avoidable these deaths and injuries are.
“What gets to me is how avoidable all these collisions are, however minor or serious, and they all lead to needles deaths and serious injuries. That’s the worst part about all of this. It doesn’t matter who you are or what type of road user you are, we are all at risk, all because of incidents which can be avoided. I would ask every person to do the right thing, the safe thing and be more responsible and safe on the roads”
Leo Liegio, Father of Marsia Liegio said; “The effects are well documented; too many people are being killed on our roads or are being injured for life. I am asking everyone, listen to our story, our family, like so many others; we know what it’s like, we’ve suffered the loss, experienced the pain and live with the grief. Change your road behaviour now and for good, before it changes your life forever, and not for the good.”
This week in particular is a very sombre week for many families as someone will be missing from the dinner table on Christmas Day, someone won’t get to open their Christmas present and someone will be sitting at home on Christmas day, not filled with joy; but sadness, loss or guilt.
Road Safety Officer Declan Keogh said we all need to change our behaviour and attitude while on the roads.
“The roads are merciless, they will take any man, woman or child, and the sooner we get that, the sooner we realise the devastating consequences after a crash, hopefully is when we all wake up and become safer on the road," he added.