Sunday, 5 Feb 2023

'Within an hour of my sister's fatal crash people were giving out online that it was delaying traffic'

A MAN who lost his sister in a road accident has urged people to think about what they share online, revealing that he saw people complaining that the collision she died in delayed traffic.

Neil Fox (37) was devastated when his younger sister Donna (30) died after she was hit by a truck while cycling in Dublin City Centre on September 6 2016.

He said that within an hour of the collision he saw people complaining on social media that the emergency was delaying traffic, while others decided to criticise cyclists.

He was speaking after gardai had to issue a notice urging people not to share pictures and videos that were circulating from the scene of a fatal crash on the M50 on Thursday, where Jackie Griffin lost her life.

Mr Fox, who is from the Naul in Co Dublin, told Independent.ie: “I was paranoid from very early on after Donna’s death that there might be photos of Donna at the scene, a garda family liaison officer reassured us that they didn’t think there was.

“But he did say that it can happen, when passerbys take out their phones at the scene of fatal accidents to take pictures and are actually just obstructing gardai while they are doing their work.

“My cousin was with me the day Donna died and she kind of kept me away from seeing anything on the internet but a good few months later I saw a news article about it from the day she was killed.

“It was written about an hour after it happened, so I wouldn’t have even known she had been in an accident at that point, but people were writing comments straight away giving out about cyclists and jumping to conclusions.

“Within an hour of my sister’s fatal crash people were giving out online that it was delaying traffic because the emergency services were obviously at the scene.

“It was as if she wasn’t even a human being to them, I don’t think there’s any excuse, it’s somebody’s life – it’s somebody’s family, partner, neighbour or friend, they are a human being and it’s somebody’s life.

“I was traumatised and that would only be minor compared to people who were sharing images and videos from the scene.”

He said that he was bewildered that somebody decided to capture videos and footage from the scene of the collision on the M50 on Thursday.

“The idea that somebody would take pictures or videos instead of trying to help is mind boggling, I think what shocked me was that somebody had thought it was okay to do that.

“It seems like a really sensationalist thing, I don’t know are people just becoming more desensitised or something.

“Those videos that were being shared are absolutely horrible and I think there should be consequences,” he said.

“Unfortunately I think it’s always been a thing where people want to say they were the first on the scene.

“It seems now everyone is a photographer and has access to air their views thanks to social media.

“But to actually take pictures of someone at a fatal accident is just absolutely shocking, I don’t know what would possess you to do that.

“I just don’t know how between taking a photo of someone at the scene of a crash, uploading it and sharing it with people you wouldn’t have a moment of clarity that it wasn’t right.”

There has been a backlash about the footage, with Fine Gael TD Colm Brophy among those calling for social media companies to be given more responsibility for the content shared on their platforms.

Mr Fox doesn’t agree with this and feels the onus should be on those who take photos and videos at the scene of fatal accidents and also those who share it on social media.

He explained: “I think we can all be very quick to blame social media companies but at the end of the day I think it comes down to the person who takes that video and then decides to post it online and then also every person receives that and decides to further share it should be held accountable.

“There has to be some personal responsibility, social media companies do have some accountability but then I think we’re letting the main culprits off.

“What sort of society are we in that this is an issue? I’m glad there was outrage over this because the person responsible should know that what they did isn’t okay.”

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