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Buncrana tragedy – more details emerge

The tragic scene at Buncrana Pier on Sunday evening.  Photo: North West Newspix

The tragic scene at Buncrana Pier on Sunday evening. Photo: North West Newspix

MORE details have emerged of yesterdays tragedy in Buncrana which claimed the lives of five people after a vehicle entered the water off the pier.

An investigation is expected to get underway to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident.

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Six people were in the vehicle and a baby, just months old, was saved by a passerby. It has since emerged that the five people who died in the accident were a woman in her 50s, one of her daughters, the partner of another daughter and two children of primary school age.

The Northern Ireland registered Audi Q7 vehicle slipped from Buncrana jetty into Lough Swilly shortly after 7pm.

An eye witness has described how he shouted to the driver of the car when it was caught on the slipway of the pier.
Francis Crawford said the driver asked him to call the coast guard, which he did, but that within ten minutes the car had disappeared.

Mr Crawford said another  man from Kerrykeel man swam out to the car and rescued the baby.

“A man came along then, I asked him could he swim, he said he could, he stripped down to his underwear and he swam out to the car, he really risked his life. He came back with the wee baby.

“I was hoping the car would stay afloat, but all of a sudden it just went under. Within 10 minutes the family was all gone except the wee baby.

“I could see that between the car and slipway was a body, there was another one further out.

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“They couldn’t just jump out of the car and leave the children.”

He said rescuers brought a body in and did CPR, “but it was too late”.

Mr Crawford said it was heart-rending and harrowing to witness the scenes. “This man was still shouting to me when the car went down. But there was nothing any one could do.”

“I was hoping against hope and praying … that the car would stay afloat knowing that everybody [emergency services] was on their way.

“And then just all of a sudden the whole lot just went under the water.

“And that was it, and all within ten minutes, the family was gone, except the wee baby.”

He said that there was nothing he or anyone else could do and the emergency services arrived quickly.

“The divers were here from Derry, the ambulances were here, the fire service was here, the lifeboat was here, the coast guard was here, the helicopter was here. Everybody did what they could do but it was too late.”

RNLI personnel say the vehicle sank in about 3.5 metres of water. The scene where the incident occurred has been sealed off and is expected to remain closed for a number of days as gardai carry out a technical examination.

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