Louise James says pier tragedy was an accident waiting to happen

Declan Magee


Declan Magee


Louise James says pier tragedy was an accident waiting to happen

Louise James arriving at the inquest yesterday.

The woman who lost five members of her family in the Buncrana pier tragedy has said she believes the incident was an accident waiting to happen.

Louise James lost her two young sons, her mother, her sister and her partner when the Audi Q7 car they were in slid into the water off a slipway in Buncrana in March 2016.

Ms James was speaking after a jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure at the inquest into the deaths of Sean McGrotty (49), his sons Evan (8) and Mark (12); the boy's grandmother Ruth Daniels (57) and her daughter Jodie Lee Tracey (14).

Donegal man Davitt Walsh entered the water and took Ms James’s baby daughter Rioghnanch-Ann from  Sean before the car sank.

Ms James was on her way home from a hen party in Liverpool when the tragedy took place.

The two-day inquest heard medical evidence that Sean McGrotty was over the legal drink driving limit.

The jury made 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.

In a statement read by her solicitor on her behalf after the verdicts were reached, Ms James said her heart is shattered.

“It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I have listened to the evidence that has emerged in the course of this inquest,” she said through her solicitor Robert Anderson.

“There are simply no words capable of expressing my pain and disbelief and indeed my anger over what happened on that fateful day. My heart is shattered.

“Every moment of every day is filled with thoughts of my beautiful boys Mark and Evan, my mother Ruth, my sister Jodie Lee, and my partner Sean.

“The one ray of sunshine in my life is my beautiful daughter Rioghnanch who survived this horrible tragedy, and for that I must once again thank Davitt and all those others who helped to save her on that day.

“I firmly believe that the slipway should have been closed to the general public or else proper warning signs displayed, as it was an accident waiting to happen. Hopefully, lessons will be learned and the recommendations made following this inquest will be implemented.

"Finally, regarding Sean, notwithstanding the evidence that has emerged, I wish to add that he was a wonderful partner to me and an adoring father to his children. He lived for them, and it is clear from what this inquest has heard that in fact he died as he lived in that he could have saved himself but chose not to.”