Buncrana inquest: Rescuer recounts battling to pull boy free

Buncrana inquest: Rescuer recounts battling to pull boy free

Buncrana inquest: Rescuer recounts battling to pull boy free

The post mortem of Sean McGrotty, the driver in the Buncrana pier tragedy, revealed that he was significantly over the drink driving limit.


Pathologist Dr Catriona Dillon told the inquest in Buncrana today that a toxicology report on Mr McGrotty showed there was a level of 159 milligrammes of alcohol.

Mr. McGrotty and his two sons Mark and Evan died as a result of the incident, as did Mr. McGrotty's mother-in-law Ruth, and Ruth's daughter Jodie.

Michael Staines, a solicitor representing Donegal County Council, queried Dr Dillon's use of the term "may" and said that a driver found with 80 to 100 mlg/d would face a one year ban from driving.

The only survivor in the Londonderry family was a baby girl.

Her mother, Louise James, has said her daughter was her only reason to go on living.

Secene A policeman at Buncrana Pier after the tragedy
Secene A policeman at Buncrana Pier after the tragedy

Sean McGrotty managed to hand out his baby daughter Rioghnach-Ann to Mr Walsh, who took her to safety before the Audi Q7 sank.

The man was Davitt Walsh and Mr Crawford asked him if he could swim.

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

"I reached in and grabbed the wee boy, I tried to pull the wee boy out but he seemed to get stuck on something".

Mr Walsh said Mr McGrotty managed to scramble onto the ledge of the driver's side window before water started to rush in.

On Wednesday, Francis Crawford told the inquest, being held at the Lake of Shadows hotel in Buncrana, that by the time the RNLI lifesavers reached the scene the Derry family's vehicle had disappeared into Lough Swilly and the victims were floating in the water.

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Witnesses estimated it took 12 minutes from the point at which they realised the SUV was in the water to when the emergency services arrived, by which time the family was missing.

He said he could hear people and children screaming but wasn't sure how many people were in the vehicle.

"I was hoping that the emergency services would arrive and the vehicle would not go down".

An earlier witness told the coroner the slipway was covered with green algae.

Mr Walsh, who has since been awarded a gold medal for bravery at sea, was able to swim back to shore with the baby.

Donegal Coroner Dr Denis McCauley has said the inquest will examine the events of the night.

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"He said "I know, I know", Mr Crawford recalled.

"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".

The inquest was told that the gate leading down to the slipway was open at the time and cars were freely allowed to enter onto it. "I was exhausted and lay on the slipway", he added.

When he made it back to the slipway and handed the baby to his girlfriend, he collapsed with exhaustion and had to be helped from the slippery surface.

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

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