Buncrana Pier Tragedy mother hopes inquest is over soon

Inquest into Buncrana tragedy gets underway in Donegal

Sean McGrotty (49), his sons Evan (8) and Mark (12); the boy's grandmother Ruth Daniels (57) and her daughter Jodie Lee Tracey (14) all lost their lives on March 20, 2016.

Sean McGrotty handed his four-month-old daughter Rionaghac-Ann to the former footballer through the broken driver's side window just moments before the vehicle sank.

Louise James, who is Mr McGrotty's partner, Mark and Evan's mother, Mrs Daniels' daughter and Jodie-Lee's sister, is at the inquest.

Mr Crawford said he then saw two adult bodies and a child's body float to the surface of the water.

Mr Walsh said: "I saw a young boy inside the auto trying to clamber out past the driver".

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

He said there was green algae on the slipway which was very slippy.

The first witness to the inquest in Buncrana added: "It was treacherous to walk on, slippery as ice". "I was exhausted and lay on the slipway", he added.

He said to his wife "I think there is something badly wrong here" and he put down his window and shouted out "are you OK?"

He said Walsh said to him that he tried to get another boy out but that his leg had got caught.

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.

Mr Walsh, who won a medal for his bravery, said: "I had to let go because I was struggling as hard as I could to avoid getting sucked into the water".

Heroic Davitt Walsh selflessly stripped down to his underwear and swam out to the family after the jeep had slipped into the water off the pier.

Mr Walsh said "take the baby, take the baby" and Mr Crawford thought it was the woman who had arrived with Mr Walsh who took the baby.

He saw Mr Walsh swim over to the auto and Mr Crawford was hoping the vehicle would not go down.

He said he could only manage to make it back to the slipway and hand the baby to his girlfriend before collapsing with exhaustion.

It was freezing cold and he suffered cuts to his feet, which he was treated for in hospital. He knew the dangers because he knew the area but "a stranger would not know", he said.

At this point, he could not make out anybody else other than the driver in the vehicle.

Witness Francis Crawford told the inquest Mr McGrotty called out to him to contact the emergency services as he realised they were in trouble.

It was not until her flight landed in Belfast that she heard what had happened.

Irish police Sergeant Mark Traynor said gardai and the RNLI were on the scene within four or five minutes of the call it received but by that stage there was no sign of the vehicle.

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

Earlier, Coroner Dr Denis McCauley asked the media for sensitivity in reporting on the inquest.

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