Witnesses tell Buncrana pier tragedy inquest that they could hear children screaming

Witnesses to the Buncrana pier tragedy in Co Donegal have told an inquest they could hear children screaming as their car entered the water.

Five members of one family, including three children, died in the incident in March 2016.


The inquest is first dealing with the death of Sean McGrotty, the 49 year old who was behind the wheel of the Audi people carrier that entered the water in Buncrana in March 2016

buncranaHis sons twelve year old Mark and eight year old Evan – their Grandmother Ruth Daniels and her 14 year old daughter Jodie Lee also died in the tragedy.

The inquest into their deaths began this morning.

Two witnesses have told how the car was in the water when they arrived on the scene, and had sunk 12 to 15 minutes later.

They described how they could hear screaming from kids in the car, and how Mr McGrotty called for help from the vehicle.

Davitt Walsh, the hero who swam out to the car and saved baby Rionach Ann from the car, also gave evidence.

He described he tried to help a boy escape from a broken window in the car, but lost the grip on his hand when he got stuck as the vehicle sank.

Witnesses have described how there was slippery and thick algae on the slipway in Buncrana that night – and no safety signs were in place.

Three lifebouys were meant to be at the pier, but gardaí say only one was in place that night.

One eyewitness described how three bodies came to the surface of the water shortly after the car sank, with one seeming to attempt to swim to shore.

Gardaí described the efforts made by emergency services to resuscitate people at the scene, with first responders spending 30 minutes trying to save the life of Ruth Daniels in particular.

First responders arrived at the scene within 4 minutes of being notified of the tragedy, but were too late to save any more lives.

The inquest continues this afternoon and is expected to run into tomorrow.