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’Speed kills’ - grieving mother

Ann Moran speaking to schoolchildren from around the county at the AXA Roadsafe Roadshow.
DISPLAY OF COURAGE Ann Moran speaking to schoolchildren from around the county at the AXA Roadsafe Roadshow. 
Pic: Keith Heneghan/Phocus

Speed kills’ - grieving mother

Claire Egan

THE mother of a Westport teenager who was killed in a car accident has warned the young people of Mayo that speed kills.
In a powerful speech to over 1,000 students at a road safety show in Castlebar last week, Ann Moran issued the heartfelt warning and appealed to those in attendance to avoid becoming ‘another statistic’.
“Undoubtedly speed kills and when you get into a car and turn the key of the ignition you are in a loaded weapon. Please don’t be another statistic,” said Ann, as part of an emotional address to students from 27 Mayo schools.
Ann, who lost her daughter Regina in a road accident on December 9, 2002 was taking part in the road safety initiative to raise awareness among young people of the dangers associated with driving and of the importance of road safety. In particular, she warned of the dangers of modified cars.
The Westport woman’s presentation had a visible effect on the students, many of whom were reduced to tears after listening to her heartfelt pleas.
“Young people use the word ‘cool’ a lot in relation to things in their lives. However, it is not cool to end up disabled or dead. It is not cool to leave your family with a lifetime of heartbreak and grief. I am appealing to you, as a mother who lost a daughter, to drive safely. Do not drink and drive, do not speed and always put safety first,” said Ann.

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Huge crowd attends road safety initiative

Claire Egan

OVER 1,000 secondary school students from 27 schools in Mayo attended a hard-hitting road safety campaign on Thursday last at the TF Royal Hotel, Castlebar.
Speakers at the event, organised by Mayo County Council’s Road Safety Officer, Noel Gibbons, included representatives of the emergency services, gardaí, an A&E consultant, a victim of a road traffic accident and a bereaved mother. The initiative was designed to raise awareness among young people of the importance of road safety.
A video detailing a tragic end to a night out for a number of young people was broadcast, while a series of graphic photo slides were also presented to the audience, detailing the horrific injuries suffered by road traffic victims.
The roadshow also included heart-rending speeches by Martina Coyle who was seriously injured in a road accident and Westport woman, Ann Moran, who lost her daughter Regina, aged 19, in an accident in 2002.
The hard-hitting campaign has been adapted for locals schools, courtesy of the Northern Ireland local authorities which originally showcased the event to hundreds of schools in the Ulster region.
According to Noel Gibbons, the roadshow appeared to have a profound effect on those who attended.
“While a lot of the students arrived in high spirits, once proceedings began it was obvious that they were completely taken aback by what they were seeing. We had presentations from doctors, Gardaí, fire service members and paramedics, which documented the terrible carnage of a road accident, as well as photo slides which showed the horrific injuries that happen. It was shocking and hard-hitting but that is what is needed. Many students were visibly upset, but if this campaign sticks in their minds when they drive on the roads and reminds them to be cautious then it will have made a difference,” said Mr Gibbons.
Similar sentiments were echoed by Michael Davitt, a teacher from Sancta Maria College, Louisburgh.
“Definitely it was quite graphic and shocking but that is what is needed. It served as a timely reminder to both young and old to take care on the roads and exercise caution. There was a huge response to the event from my own groups [of students] and hopefully it will stick in their minds when they start driving. It is definitely a campaign that I would like to see extended to fifth year and sixth year groups as many of this age group are now also driving or in the process of learning to drive,” said Mr Davitt.

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Bereaved mother’s powerful speech

Claire Egan

“YOU NEVER think that it will happen to you; it is something that happens to other people. But when it does happen, it is a nightmare,” said Ann Moran, mother of Regina, aged 19 who lost her life in a road traffic accident on December 9, 2002, just eleven days shy of her 20th birthday.
On the day of the accident, Regina, an accomplished show-jumping star, had received a letter of acceptance to the Mayoralty Beauty College in Galway. That night the ‘bubbly’ young woman had gone on a ‘girls’ night out’ with her friends, and had left her home on the Lodge Road, Westport, giving her mother a warm hug and taking heed of her advice to ‘drive safely’.
“She had always driven safely, she never ever took drink and drove,” recalled Ann at last week’s road safety roadshow. “She would take a drink in a social setting but never to excess. She never smoked or took drugs. She was careful on the road and she always heeded our words to be careful on the road,” explained Ann.
On the fateful night of December 9, 2002, Ann received a call from her eldest daughter Geraldine at 3.30am telling her that Regina had been in a car accident.
At first Ann thought Geraldine was having a ‘nightmare’ and it couldn’t possibly be true, but an ominous knock at the front door signalled that Ann’s worst fears had become a reality. Two gardaí stood outside and, on entering the Moran home, they imparted the grave news.
Ann and her family rushed to Mayo General Hospital, hoping that Regina had perhaps suffered a broken arm or leg. However, the sight that greeted them is a memory that will endure forever.
“When I went into the trauma room I saw my little girl covered in tubes, her head was encased in a big rubber red block and a machine was making her lungs rise up and down. My whole world fell apart and somehow I just knew that I would never ever get to talk to her again. She stayed on life support for three days as we hoped and prayed she would get better and wake up. But it wasn’t to be. We took the decision to donate her organs and to give life to someone else,” said Ann.
Five years on the pain is still as acute as ever. While other people drift inevitably back to the routine of normal life, for the family of the bereaved the pain is ongoing. Not a day goes by when thoughts do not turn to the loved one as they try to battle against the tide of grief and sadness that can, at times, be overwhelming.
“It is the family that has to live with the grief. It has had a terrible affect on each and every one of us. No parent should have to bury their child and each day we battle trying to understand why she was taken,” explained Ann.
The Westport woman, who has battled cancer on three different occasions, explained that her reasons for participating in the roadshow event were borne purely from a desire to ‘try and help’ save lives. Her appearance at the roadshow was momentous for her – it was the first time that she had spoken publicly about her grief.
“It was extremely hard and very emotional but I managed to do it with the help of my daughter Geraldine. I hope that the young people who attended the event will realise the affect that death has on a family. They are left with the heartache and it is impossible to come to terms with it. You try your very best to get on with it but it is so difficult. When a young person dies, the hopes and dreams of a parent for their child dies with them,” said Ann.