Inquest begins into Buncrana pier tragedy

Buncrana pier victims Mark McGrotty (12) and Evan McGrotty (eight), Sean McGrotty (48), Ruth Daniels (57) and Jodie Lee Daniels (14) died when their car slid into Lough Swilly in March 2016.
Seamus McKinney

An inquest will open in today into the deaths of five members of the same family who drowned in the Buncrana pier tragedy.

Sean McGrotty (48), his sons, Mark (12) and Evan (8) along with the boys’ grandmother, Ruth Daniels (58) and their aunt, Jodie-Lee (14) drowned when their Audi car slid on algae on Buncrana Pier into Lough Swilly in March 2016.

The only survivor from the tragedy was Mr McGrotty’s then four-month-old daughter, Ríoghnach. The baby was rescued when her father passed her from the car to Donegal man, Davitt Walsh who had swam out from the pier in a desperate bid to rescue the family.

The family, from Derry had travelled to Buncrana for an evening. The accident happened at a popular viewing spot on the banks of Lough Swilly.

The inquest into the tragedy is expected to open this morning at the Lake of Shadows Hotel, close to the scene of the tragedy.

The inquest, which will be heard before a jury, is expected to last two days.

At a pre-inquest hearing coroner Denis McCauley said 69 draft depositions had been collected from people who were present on the shore on the night of the tragedy. These have been distilled down to 12 for this week’s inquest.

Dr McCauley said he also intends hearing evidence of post mortem examinations as well as a report by Donegal County Council and reports from the Republic’s Road Safety Authority and Volkswagen Ireland.

The council report will focus on piers and slipways, including Buncrana pier, which is owned by the authority.

Floral tributes were left at Buncrana Pier in the days after the March 2016 tragedy. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

Donegal coroner Dr Denis McCauley will conduct an inquest into the deaths of the Buncrana Pier tragedy victims. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

The Buncrana pier victims, from left, Mark McGrotty (12) and Evan McGrotty (8), Sean McGrotty (49), Ruth Daniels (57), and Jodie Lee Daniels (14)

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