The West

Mum s battle to clear name after crash killed kids
Saoirse, 9, Connor, 3, and Soren, 11, were killed in an horrific crash in Denmark last July. Supplied picture

A doctor who lost three of her four children when a speeding and texting driver ploughed into their car in Europe has told of the battle to clear her name.

Police told Maria O'Shea that she would be charged with involuntary manslaughter over the deaths of her daughter Saoirse, 9, and sons Soren, 11, and Connor, 3, the day after the horrific crash in Denmark in July.

She and four-month-old son Torben were in hospital getting treatment, while the other driver had not yet been questioned.

Dr O'Shea and husband Brian, of Pemberton, yesterday told of the trauma of enduring six months of suspicion that she was to blame for the deaths of their children, as they kept a close eye on Torben at the dam where their elder children loved to swim.

"You think it will never happen to you but when the worst-case scenario happens, it can be worse than your worst nightmare," the O'Sheas said. "One minute you're a happy family doing everything you're supposed to be doing and the next you're living another life."

Police initially claimed Dr O'Shea had overlooked an oncoming car that was driving at the 80km/h speed limit and had turned into its path.

A month later, a crash investigation revealed that the other driver, father-of-three Lasse Burholt, was doing at least 125km/h.

Then the O'Sheas found YouTube videos that Burholt, 39, had filmed of himself on his mobile phone as he drove at high speeds. It forced investigators to obtain his phone records.

They found Burholt used his phone to make calls or send text messages 15 times in the 30 minutes before the crash - the last within seconds of the collision.

"Maria's phone was used to call emergency services at 9.47am and his last text, which was a smiley face, was sent at 9.45.37am," Mr O'Shea said.

Dr O'Shea had to get out of the passenger side of her crumpled car, which was on its roof, before handing the phone to a passerby to call for help. Two months after the crash, which was regarded as the worst in Denmark's history, Burholt was charged with involuntary manslaughter.

He fought the charges but was convicted at a trial in October.

The O'Sheas said they were sickened by his penalty - a $2000 fine and a three-year probationary driving period - saying it was no deterrent to other motorists or any acknowledgment of the loss of their children.

They said Burholt's behaviour had shattered their lives and pleaded with other motorists not to take risks or use phones while driving. "I'm sure he didn't get in the car with the intention of hurting anybody but the choices he made had fatal consequences," Dr O'Shea said.

Despite Burholt's charge and conviction, police ref-used to drop charges against Dr O'Shea, saying that while Burholt was driving too fast, she had failed to give way.

Dr O'Shea said she did not want to return to WA until she had cleared her name.

In January, more than six months after the tragedy, authorities dropped the charges, having no evidence she had done anything wrong.

Dr O'Shea said her husband's unwavering belief in her innocence helped her through the difficult period.

The family returned to Pemberton in February and are honouring their three children through their fund The 3 Musketeers.

They want to help dis- advantaged and orphaned children in developing countries.

The West Australian

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