'Hold your kids every chance you get' – mum whose daughter and grandson died in car tragedy

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A DEVASTATED mother who lost her daughter and grandson in a car accident has urged all parents to appreciate their children “because you never know going to bed at night what you will wake up to”.

ary Smith, from Co Meath, and her family will release ball-oons this weekend to mark the 30th birthday of her daughter Emma O’Keeffe who, she says, “lived for her kids”.

Ms O’Keeffe and her seven- year-old son Daniel were killed when the car she was driving was involved in a head-on collision with a lorry near their home between Nobber and Kingscourt at 12.50pm on January 12, 2017.

Ms O’Keeffe (26) died from her injuries in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, the following day, while Daniel died 10 days later.

He helped three people through the donation of his organs.

Ms O’Keeffe’s two-year-old son Logan escaped with a broken collar bone in the crash, which changed Mary and her family’s lives for ever.

Her other son Adam, who was five at the time, was in school when the accident happened.

Ms Smith said that since losing her daughter and grandson, she cries every day.

“I relive that day in my mind all the time,” said the mother-of-four from Carlanstown.

“Emma had been in town when she got a call from Daniel’s school in Wilkinstown, saying he didn’t seem to like the lights.

“She rang me at 12.10pm on her way to the doctors with a fear that Daniel might have meningitis.

“After the accident, Temple Street diagnosed Daniel with type A influenza. That call was the last time I spoke to her.

“I was actually in Drogheda that morning with my daughter Kelly and was on the way home when an ambulance with a garda escort passed us on the road.

“Kelly said, ‘God help the people in the ambulance’, and I replied that ‘some poor, unfortunate person is going to get the worst call of their lives now’.

“I was in Navan when Emma’s husband Robin rang me to tell me about the accident.

“He was on his way to Crumlin Hospital where Logan was being airlifted to and wasn’t sure how bad Emma and Daniel were.

“I honestly wasn’t prepared for what I saw at the hospital. The staff did everything for her, but her injuries were too severe and she died at 5.25am the next day.

“Daniel had been transferred to Temple Street Hospital and I was getting feedback about his injuries from Robin, who was in Dublin with him.

“Thankfully, Logan escaped with a broken collar bone, but poor Daniel had horrific head injuries and couldn’t be saved, despite having two operations.

“Our little hero Daniel saved three people with his organs. His loving heart went to a two-year-old boy in Great Ormond Street Hospital in London while another boy received his liver, and one of his kidneys was donated to a mother.”

Emma would have been 30 tomorrow, and Ms Smith (53) is determined to mark the occasion.

“I put on a brave face every day, but I cry most of the time,” she said.

“Emma loved us all, but she was a real daddy’s girl and would ring her dad Patrick every day. She was a premature baby, born at 28 weeks and just four pounds 11 ounces, so Patrick was always that bit more protective of her.

“She was also extremely close to her brother Peter as well as her sisters Donna and Kelly.

“Tragically, Patrick also lost his nephew Simon Delany 10 years ago. He died trying to save another person from a lake in Virginia.

“Emma lived for her three boys and would have to be first at the school gates every day.

“She also loved Christmas and would have everything organised by now.

“She would have been so excited to celebrate turning 30, so we’re going to her and Daniel’s grave in Kilberry on Sunday to release some balloons in her memory.

“I’d just say to any parent to appreciate your children, hug them every chance you get and spoil them if you can.”

Herald

Source: Irish News