Survivor of horror crash won't walk for weeks but pays tribute to Citroen for escaping death

The scene of the incident and (inset) Mary Bermingham and Gary Fenton
The scene of the incident and (inset) Mary Bermingham and Gary Fenton

A naval service veteran who miraculously escaped death along with his partner and her four children in an horrific head-on collision faces spending much of the New Year in hospital.

Gary Fenton (35) revealed in a social media post that it will be weeks before he is able to walk again - and he then faces months in rehabilitation.

Mr Fenton's update on his condition came as he contacted car maker, Citroen, to say he owes them his life after surviving a horror crash thanks to the safety features on his French-built car.

Mr Fenton said he is convinced that, but for the multiple safety features on his 2011 Citroen C4 Picasso, he might not have survived the head-on collision in Waterford on December 4 along with his partner, Mary Bermingham (37) and her four children, aged from six to 14 years.

Three young men travelling in the other vehicle involved, a small hatchback, died when it exploded in a fireball seconds after the collision.

Such was the intensity of the resultant blaze that all three had to be identified from dental records and DNA.

The dead were Eamon Dixon (22), Michael Tobin (38), both from Dungarvan,and Ken O'Sullivan (39) from Cork.

The tragedy remains the focus of a major garda investigation.

Moving tributes were paid to all three young men who died in the collision.

Mr Dixon's mother, Lorraine, posted a special Facebook tribute to her son. "My beautiful handsome boy. (We are) devastated beyond words. You were my first born - if I could have u back is all I want," she posted. 

The crash sparked one of the biggest emergency service operations in recent years in Waterford with gardai, Dungarvan fire brigade, Civil Defence, Irish Coast Guard and the Defence Forces responding.

Some of the injured were airlifted to Cork and Waterford hospitals by Irish Coast Guard and Air Corps helicopters.

Mr Fenton, based in Cobh, Co Cork with the Naval Service, was driving his Citroen people carrier to Waterford so his partner’s children could see the Winterval Christmas festival.

The collision occurred on the Military Road, some 5km outside Dungarvan, shortly after 9am on December 4.

Mr Fenton, in a Facebook post from his hospital bed, paid tribute to Citroen for the high safety specifications of their cars.

"My sincere gratitude to Citroen," he wrote. "I was driving a 2011 C4 Grand Picasso which I purchased in Cork. I fully believe that because I was driving this car the six of us survived.

"The occupants of the other car were less fortunate. What I also find astounding is the children had very minor or no injuries at all.

"However, myself and my partner fared the worst. We are currently in Cork University Hospital (CUH) with severe injuries.

"It will be another six weeks at least before we can walk, but we are alive and will get better. So I just want to display my gratitude to Citroen for building one of the safest cars in the world in my view. So (this is) just a post to say thank you."

Citroen Ireland said they were delighted with his comments and wished him and his family a speedy recovery.

"Your story (is) not about the C4 Picasso but much more importantly it is about you, your partner and her four precious children," the French car manufacturer posted.

"We are so glad to hear that all the children managed to escape injury, and wishing you and your partner a speedy and complete recovery.

"Wishing you safe driving in 2017 and health and happiness for you and your family."

Mr Fenton admitted he "won't be driving for a while" but said he feels the French car manufacturer and the safety levels of their vehicles deserve special mention.

"I just wanted to display my gratitude as that car saved our lives," he posted.