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Inquest begins for Buncrana pier tragedy

Flowers are left at the scene at Buncrana Pier Credit: PA

An inquest begins on Wednesday into the death of five members of a family whose car plunged off a pier in Donegal last year.

Evan McGrotty, aged eight, died alongside his 12-year-old brother Mark, his father Sean, 46, grandmother Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter, Jodie Lee Daniels, when their SUV sank after sliding off a slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal, in March 2016.

Witnesses said they heard screaming moments before the vehicle sank.

In March 2016, all five had been sitting inside Mr McGrotty’s Audi 4x4 - parked on the slipway next to the pier at Buncrana harbour.

The car slid down the algae-covered slope into the waters of Lough Swilly.

Five lives were lost, but remarkably a baby girl survived.

Little Ríoghnach - just four months old - was saved by the heroic actions of passer-by Davitt Walsh.

He swam out to rescue the baby from the sinking car.

Mr Walsh told the inquest that Sean McGrotty handed little Ríoghnach to him, saying, “Save my baby.”

Seconds later the 4x4 slipped below the waves and its five occupants drowned.

This tragic event unfolded before the gaze of startled onlookers on the pier.

Husband and wife Francis and Kay Crawford were among the eyewitnesses.

Mr Crawford dialled 999 to alert the Coastguard, and the couple told the inquest they could hear the adults and children crying and calling out as the car floated away from the pier before it sank.

A jury of five women and four is hearing evidence before Donegal corner Dr Denis McCauley.

They will be asked to make a finding regarding the cause of death for each of the five victims, and whether any measures could be put in place to prevent a similar tragedy happening again.

The inquest is due to continue tomorrow.


Gardaí investigate sudden death in Co Donegal

Gardaí and paramedics were called to a house in Carndonagh, Co Donegal. Credit: PA

Gardaí are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a man in his 30s in Co Donegal.

Emergency services were called to a house in the Carndonagh area shortly after 8pm on Thursday to treat a 37-year-old man.

He was pronounced dead a short time later and his body was taken to Letterkenny Hospital.

The local Coroner has been notified and a post-mortem is due to be carried out by the State Pathologist on Saturday morning.

According to gardaí, who are continuing to preserve the scene, enquiries are ongoing and the results of the post-mortem will determine the course of their investigation.

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