Northern Ireland news

Woman who helped during Buncrana pier tragedy claims compensation against victim's estate

Stephanie Knox is claiming against Donegal county council and the estate of Sean McGrotty for injuries sustained following the Buncrana pier tragedy. Picture from ITV Tonight
Seamus McKinney

AN assembly member has expressed shock after it emerged a woman who helped at the scene of the Buncrana pier tragedy has made a claim against the estate of one of those who died.

A solicitor for Derry woman Stephanie Knox said last night she did not send a letter claiming compensation to Sean McGrotty's elderly father.

However, he confirmed that "she is making a claim, on the advice of her legal team, against Donegal county council and the estate for injuries sustained”.

Noel McGrotty (86) received notification of the claim shortly before last week’s second anniversary of the tragedy.

Sean (48) died along with his sons Mark (12) and Evan (8), their maternal grandmother Ruth Daniels (58) and aunt Jodie-Lee Daniels (14) when their car slid into Lough Swilly from Buncrana pier on March 20 2016.

Mr McGrotty's baby daughter Ríoghnach was saved when Donegal man Davitt Walsh swam from the pier and rescued her moments before the Audi disappeared under water.

It has now emerged that Mr Walsh’s then girlfriend Stephanie Knox has lodged a claim for an undisclosed amount from Sean McGrotty’s estate as well as Donegal county council which owns Buncrana pier.

The health worker watched the tragedy unfold and took the baby from Mr Walsh and tended to her until help arrived.

The couple are no longer in a relationship.

Mr McGrotty snr told The Derry News that he received the claim by “private delivery” for which he had to sign.

“It was a big envelope full of legal documents. Then I saw the name Knox and realised it was from the girl that took the baby when she was brought out of the water that day,” he said.

The pensioner said he did not know why the claim was sent to him as he was not the executor of his son’s estate.

Read more: Buncrana pier tragedy - Mother meets hero who saved baby's life

'Save my baby' plea as father handed daughter to rescuer

The news provoked a huge reaction on social media sites yesterday.

SDLP assembly member and former Stormont minister Mark H Durkan said his reaction was "one of shock and disbelief".

He added that when he learned the letter was received shortly before the second anniversary he was "stuck for words".

A solicitor for Ms Knox told The Irish News that she contacted him after news of the letter broke yesterday.

Maoliosa Barr, of Barr and Company Solicitors in Derry, said "she did not send any letter to the McGrotty family".

It is understood it was sent by the Dublin-based Personal Injuries Assessment Board, which provides independent assessments of non-medical compensation claims in the Republic.

Mr Barr added: "She is making a claim, on the advice of her legal team, against Donegal county council and the estate for injuries sustained.”

Late last night Ms Knox posted on Facebook that she assumed her claim would have been against Donegal County Council and an insurance company.

“Never in my life did I think it would be coming from the family,” she wrote.

She said lodged a claim because she had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder since the tragedy.

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


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