Buncrana Pier tragedy inquest underway

An inquest into the Buncrana pier tragedy which claimed the lives of five people from the same family has started today. 
Sean McGrotty (48), his sons, Evan (8) and Mark (12), his mother in-law Ruth Daniels (57) and her fourteen year old daughter Jodie-Lee all died on March 20th, 2016 when their car entered Lough Swilly. Infant Rionaghac-Ann was saved from the vehicle by local hero, Davitt Walsh. 
The Audi Q7 was parked on a slipway on Buncrana pier and could not reverse back on to the pier due to ‘extensive, thick, slippery algae’, the Coroners Court has heard. Witnesses described it as treacherous and as slippery as ice. 
The inquest, taking place in the Lake of Shadows hotel in Buncrana, will hear from twelve witnesses over the two-day hearing. 
Eye-witnesses, Frank Crawford and his wife, Kay, were the first to alert emergency services when they arrived at the pier to find a car four or five inches in the water. A few minutes later another eye witness realised the Audi was in difficulty and drove down from the pier to the slipway to help. Davitt Walsh and his partner, Stephanie Knox, got out of their car to hear screaming and shouting from the Audi, which was now about 20 metres away from the slipway. 
He told the Coroners Court how he immediately swam out to the car from the slip way and took the baby from her father, Sean McGrotty, before water gushed into the car, submerging it into the water within seconds. He said he swam the backstroke back into the slipway to keep the infant as safe as possible. 
In a statement released today on behalf of Lousie James and her family, local parish priest, Fr Paddy O’Kane, said that Ms James wanted to get the inquest over so she could return to normal life with her daughter. 
Evidence will be heard from Donegal County Council, Audi and Irish Water Safety representatives over the two- day hearing. 
News updates to follow from the Donegal News. 

Davitt Walsh attending the inquest of the Buncrana Pier tragedy. Photo: Donna El Assaad

Members of the RNLI attending the Inquest of the Buncrana Pier tragedy. Photo: Donna El Assaad

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