14 witnesses listed to give evidence at Buncrana pier tragedy inquest

22 November, 2017, 19:23 | Author: Sherman Richardson
  • Sean Mc Grotty and his son Evan 8 who died when Mc Grotty drove his Audi off a pier

Mr McGrotty died, along with his sons Evan, eight, and Mark, 12, the boys' grandmother Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter, Jodie Lee Daniels.

Only her baby daughter, Rioghnach-Ann, survived thanks to the bravery of Davitt Walsh.

The child's mother, Louise James, has said the infant was her only reason to go on living.

Davitt Walsh told an inquest into the March 2016 deaths that he swam out to the Audi Q7 after it slid down a slipway into the harbour of coastal Lough Swilly. He said he swam out to jeep and heard children screaming inside the vehicle.

Emergency services called after a auto plunged off a pier in the Republic of Ireland arrived within 12 minutes, an eye witness has said.

There was no suggestion the speed of the response was inappropriate.

Mr Crawford said the lower 10 feet of the slipway was covered in green algae which was "slippy as ice".

The first witness to the inquest in Buncrana added: "It was treacherous to walk on, slippery as ice".

Dr Dillon said: "I can not say what level of impairment the driver had, that depends on was he habitual, was he accustomed".

He said gardai were at the back gate of the station when they received the call.

"I said to him, 'can you swim?' and he looked at me and said 'I can'".

Dr McAuley said "we have an important and solemn duty" in carrying out inquests into a "terrible tragedy that happened in March a year ago".

Crawford said he continued to hear screaming from those inside but he soon saw Walsh coming back to the slipway with a baby in his arms.

Then a man and a woman arrived on the scene.

Sean Mc Grotty with wife Louise baby Rionaghac-Ann and sons Evan 8 and Mark 12
SUPPLIED Sean Mc Grotty with wife Louise baby Rionaghac-Ann and sons Evan 8 and Mark 12

Mr Walsh said: "It was like a wave rushing in.it gushed in".

He said Mr Walsh told him he thought there were four people in the auto, two adults and two children.

The witness said it took 12 minutes for the RNLI to arrive.

Earlier, the inquiry was told that Mr McGrotty had smashed the driver's window with his elbow before passing his baby daughter out the window to local man, Davitt Walsh, who had swam out after he and his partner saw the vehicle in the water.

At that stage water which had been seeping in turned into a surge.

"The father passed the baby out the window, he sat on the ledge with his hands on the roof - I had to reach up to get the baby".

"When the driver sat on the window ledge I remember the auto tilted and the water then started to gush into the vehicle".

He said he had a "wee fella" as well but his foot was caught on something and he had to leave the auto, the inquest heard.

"I had the baby in my hand and was trying to keep her above water, I swam the back stroke back to the auto as this was the best way to keep the baby out of water".

He added: "I had to let go because I was struggling as hard as I could to avoid getting sucked into the water".

He then saw Mr Walsh swimming back to the slipway and as he got close, he could see he had a baby with him.

Mr Crawford said that local people would know not to go down onto the slipway but a stranger would not.

The coroner's court, held at the Lake of Shadows Hotel, heard evidence from consultant pathologist Dr Katrina Dillon.

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