NEWS

VERDICT: Jury finds Buncrana pier victims all died by misadventure

Declan Magee

Reporter:

Declan Magee

Email:

declan.magee@donegaldemocrat.com

VERDICT: Jury finds Buncrana pier victims all died by misadventure

Coroner Dr Denis McCauley extended his sympathy to the families of the victims saying it was a terrible and unimaginable thing that had happened.

The jury in the inquest into the Buncrana pier tragedy has returned verdicts of death by misadventure for all five victims.

The jury of five men and four women found that the five members of the one family all died by drowning after the car they were in slid into the water of Lough Swilly from a slipway in Buncrana in March 2016.

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 lost their lives.

Donegal man Davitt Walsh entered the water and took Mr McGrotty’s baby daughter Rioghnanch-Ann from her father before the car sank.

Louise James, who gave evidence at the first day of the inquest, lost her sons, partner, mother and sister. She had been on her way home from a hen party in Liverpool when the tragedy occurred.   

The inquest had heard on the first day of evidence that a toxicology report showed that Mr McGrotty, the driver of the Audi Q7, was over the legal drink driving limit.

Coroner Dr Denis McCauley said a verdict of death by misadventure would apply if the jury believed that risk had been added to by someone's decision making.

The jury added a recommendation that Irish Water Safety takes a role in advising and working with all interested parties in implementing best international practice for safety on all slipways and piers.

The foreman of the jury added that they hoped the recommendation can be implemented as quickly as possible in the light of the tragedy.

The jury offered their condolences to the families of the each of the deceased.

Coroner Dr Denis McCauley extended his sympathy to the families of the victims saying it was a terrible and unimaginable thing that had happened.

He thanked the emergency services and praised Davitt Walsh for his bravery in saving baby Rioghnanch-Ann.

“When this terrible tragedy unfolded, the response times from the emergency services were incredible. There were people there at the time who saw something, reacted and saved a life. We had emergency services that responded with incredible speed,” he said.

“Unfortunately their efforts were not successful or fruitful, but it is testament to our emergency services that they reacted so quickly. Each death will be felt differently because of the different relationships you have with the people,” he told the families.

Dr McCauley thanked the jury members for their determination and the thorough way that they carried out their responsibilities.


Words seem inadequate

Inspector David Murphy said words seem inadequate to describe what everyone in the room felt. “The evidence that we heard today couldn't but impact on everyone that is here today,” he said.

He said the tragedy has impacted on many communities - in Derry, Buncrana, in the county and across the country and further afield. Inspector Murphy also praised Davitt Wash for his actions. “Davitt Walsh is an ordinary man who did an extraordinary thing for which he should be commended,” he said.