Marty’s parents speak of pain in road safety ad

editorial image

The parents of a Derry man killed by a drunk driver in a hit and run speak of their pain as part of a new road safety campaign.

Martin ‘Marty’ Gallagher was 25 years old when he was killed in a hit and run collision at Racecourse Road as he walked home from celebrating Derry’s Halloween festival 2009.

The driver, Jonathan Francis McGonagle, was drunk, speeding and had drugs in his system. He was jailed for three years in December 2010.

Martin’s parents, Martin and Elizabeth, are one of four families living with the horror of road tragedy who feature in a harrowing new tv campaign to promote safety on the North’s roads. They have to live with the consequences of the driver’s actions for the rest of their lives.

Elizabeth Gallagher says in one of the ‘Crashed Lives’ adverts: “There’s nobody to tell you how to cope when you lose a son. You’re just broke inside - torn apart.”

Derry crash victim Melissa Devine, was left paraplegic for life following an accident in Letterkenny in June 2002. In the advert Melissa recounts how she sustained her injuries and the reality of the lasting impact on her life. Poignantly, Melissa reveals that the one time she didn’t wear her seatbelt in the backseat left her a paraplegic for life. Everyone else wearing seatbelts walked from the car. Melissa said: “The worst day of my life was when I was told – Melissa, you’ll never walk again.”

Her life changed forever, in a split second. Melissa is now dependent on carers who visit her home three times a day. She is certain that her seatbelt would have saved her.

The adverts began running yesterday and will continue until the end of February, initially.

Launching the new campaign, Environment Minister Alex Attwood praised Martin and Elizabeth and the other three families for their contributions to help save lives on the North’s roads. “Brave individuals and families have chosen to tell their heartbreaking story in the hope that they can prevent other people suffering in the same way. I am enormously grateful that they have told of their experience - I hope it is widely heard. They are ordinary people, like you and me. Their emotion is raw and very real. They each tell how their lives have been altered, in various tragic circumstances, and how road collisions have changed their lives forever,” he said.

The “Crashed Lives” adverts will initially run from 12 January to end of February 2012.