December 08, 2010 at 2:29 PM
Emergency worker may have swerved to save others’ lives
Condolences pour in for John O’Mahony, 65
By Conal Pierse and Ryan Cormier, edmontonjournal.com December 8, 2010
EDMONTON — The emergency services worker killed in a collision Monday may have sacrificed himself to save his passengers.
John O'Mahony was transporting a girl from McLennan to a hospital in Grande Prairie.
A trailer on a truck hauling empty propane tanks came loose, crossing the centre line and into O'Mahony's
path. It appears he swerved so that the driver's side took the brunt of the collision, said Rev. Joseph Jacobson in McLennan. "That's very true to his character. He took the impact so that others would be safer."
The other three passengers -- another EMS worker, a patient and a family member of the patient-- received non-life threatening injuries.
Jacobson said O'Mahony was always looking out for others. The 65-year-old retired teacher had dreamed of working with EMS, but never had enough time until he left teaching.
Jacobson described O'Mahony as an important member of the community who dedicated his life to better those around him.
"He was a saint. He had a questioning mind but a very, very caring heart."
"He did a lot of good in the community. I imagine John would agree that he died in a way he wished to have died, and that is in an act of service."
O'Mahony retired from teaching two years ago after 31 years at G.P. Vanier School in the town of Donnelly, school principal Nigel McCarthy said.
O'Mahony was a passionate math teacher.
"It's difficult anytime a former staff member passes away, but we asked students and teachers to think, 'What does a great teacher want of you?' " he said.
"Most of us know that a guy like John would want you to learn today. And if he's looking down watching you, that's probably what he'd want you to do: get your math done."
Former student Lorraine Roberts said O'Mahony was kind and caring, and made a strong impression on his students.
"He was very strict," Roberts said with a laugh.
"He expected you to do your work, but if you asked him for help, he was there."
In the aftermath of the collision, Alberta Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky offered condolences to those who knew O'Mahoney.
"Every day we depend on these highly skilled, courageous men and women to provide care and comfort to Albertans.
Our EMS practitioners work under extremely stressful situations, often risking their own health and safety to ensure we receive the help we need, when we need it."
EMS stations throughout the province will lower their flags to half mast in memory of O'Mahoney.
"Our deepest condolences go to the family and friends affected by this tragedy," said Sue Conroy, senior vice-president with EMS, Alberta Health Services.
"Our immediate concern is their well-being and we are doing all we can to support them during this difficult time."