Buncrana inquest latest

Driver was over legal drink driving limit, inquest hears

Declan Magee


Declan Magee



Driver was over legal drink driving limit, inquest hears

Members of the RNLI arriving at the inquest in Buncrana. Photo: North West Newspix

The driver of the car in which five members of the one family drowned at a Donegal slipway was over the legal drink driving limit, the inquest into their deaths has heard.

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 died when the Audi Q7 car they were in slid off a slipway into Lough Swilly at Buncrana on March 20th last year.

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.

She said the figure may indicate an element of intoxication at the time of death. Asked by Coroner Denis McCauley to put the figure into context, she said the legal driving limit was 50 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

Louise James - who lost her two sons, her mother, sister and partner - said that she flew to Liverpool at 4pm on the Friday to attend a hen party.

She said she was in constant contact with her family all weekend and she knew Sean was taking everyone out on Sunday.

At 6.55pm when she was in the airport she rang Jodie Lee and they were all in a playpark in Buncrana.

At 7.25pm she said she got a feeling that “something was not right”. She tried to phone Jodi Lee and Sean but their phones would not connect.

Ms James said she then contacted her brothers Sean and Joshua. Joshua told her a car had gone off the pier in Buncrana but social media said it was a car, not a jeep, and two men were involved.

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

Joshua told her that the body of Sean had been recovered but that “they were all gone” and Rioghnanch was in hospital.

She was collected at the airport by a family member and travelled to Letterkenny University Hospital to see Rioghnanch and identify the bodies of her family.

The inquest continues.