‘I will never get over losing my son’ - mother’s torment at death of Dominic O’Neill in tragic Pulham Market car crash
Dominic O’Neill was one of three teenagers who died in a tragic car crash in Pulham Market. His mother Davina O’Neill told South Norfolk editor ANDREW PAPWORTH of the ‘void’ his death has left in her life - but how an outpouring of community support has kept her going.
“I don’t know how to live a life without Dominic. He was my life.”
Those are the heartbreaking words of mother Davina O’Neill as she spoke in more detail about how the tragic and untimely death of her son has torn her world apart.
Popular 18-year-old Dominic was killed along with his friends Kyle Warren and Billy Hines when the black Ford Ka they were travelling in came off the road in Tivetshall Road, Pulham Market, little more than half a mile from the home she and Dominic shared.
The car left the road and hit a tree, before catching fire.
As reported in this newspaper, an inquest heard how Kyle, who passed his driving test just two weeks earlier, lost control of the vehicle on a bend on the approach to the South Norfolk village at 11.45pm on April 5 last year.
Ms O’Neill, who described her son as a “beautiful young man”, said she had been “going through hell” since the devastating news was broken to her by two police officers who knocked at the door at 2.30am the following morning.
On hearing that Dominic was going out at 9.30pm on the evening of the crash to see Kyle’s new car, her final words to him were: “He will be careful, won’t he?”
She said hearing the news was “like someone had got a big plank of wood and hit me in the chest”, adding: “Nothing in this world prepares a mother to hear those words. It was a horrendous shock.”
It was made all the more difficult by news that Kyle was had traces of MDMA and cocaine in his system, although area coroner Yvonne Blake told an inquest it was not possible to say how much of a contribution that made to the crash.
Nevertheless she has taken the painful step of forgiving Kyle for what happened, telling this newspaper: “Kyle, I forigve you. I forgive you for that night, for killing Dominic.”
Dominic and Billy, who were passengers, had no drugs or alcohol in their systems.
“I will never get over losing my son,” Ms O’Neill said.
“It’s left a huge void I don’t think I’ll be able to fill.”
But, out of the deepest tragedy, Ms O’Neill spoke of the heartwarming support she has had from Dominic’s friends and the wider community, who have rallied round to help her cope with the loss.
“Dominic had some amazing friends,” she said. “His friends weren’t just his mates. They were his family. Their love and support has been overwhelming. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t think I’d be here today.”
Every day without fail, one of Dominic’s friends - including those he described as his “girlies” - will contact Ms O’Neill, whether by phone or on Facebook, to see how she is.
They even accompanied Ms O’Neill to Southwold on Christmas Day, as the coastal resort was mother and son’s special place which they often visited together. It is also the place where he has been laid to rest, after she scattered his ashes at the end of Southwold Pier.
No more was the public support for Ms O’Neill clearer than at Dominic’s funeral, which was attended by hundreds of Dominic’s friends and well-wishers baked hundreds of cakes for the wake afterwards.
“Planning your own child’s funeral is the hardest thing in the world,” she said. “His funeral was very much about him.”
Car enthusiast Dominic grew up in the area, attending Archbishop Sancroft High School (ASHS) in Harleston before going on to study mechanics and do work placements, including helping to refit vintage Aston Martins.
His life’s ambition was to work as a mechanic and although he passed his early qualification, he was unable to progress further until he had passed GCSE-level maths. Even though he had left ASHS, his ex-teachers were trying to help him achieve that goal.
Both Ms O’Neill and ASHS deputy headteacher Rob Connelly were open about the fact that “learning didn’t come easy for Dom”.
His mother also admitted how Dominic “wasn’t always people’s favourite person”, adding: “In the village he could be quite noisy and he could often be heard tearing round the fields on his bike.”
But everyone has agreed that Dominic was, in the words of Mr Connelly, “honest, open, kind-hearted and generous”.
Ms O’Neill, a former postmistress in Pulham Market, added: “He was so funny and so loyal. He was always dancing and singing. I went through a normal mother and son relationship with him - sometimes we argued like cat and dog but both of us had a sense of humour.
“He was loved by everyone.”