Heroic Davitt tells Buncrana drownings inquest how he almost saved a second child

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first_imgA man who saved the life of a young baby during the Buncrana drowning tragedy in which five members of the same family died has told how he tried desperately to save the life of another child.Heroic Davitt Walsh selflessly stripped down to his underwear and swam out to a family whose jeep had slipped into the water off Buncrana Pier in March, 2016.Mr Walsh told how he desperately tried to save the life of another young boy but his foot got caught in the car just seconds before it went under the water. Five members of the same family perished in the tragedy including Sean McGrotty, his sons Mark, 11 and eight-year-old Evan, his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels and her teenage daughter Jodie-Lee Tracey.Mr Walsh told how he was enjoying a day out with girlfriend Stephanie Knox having played for his football team Fanad United earlier that afternoon.When they arrived at the pier they initially parked up at the end of the pier but when driving away, Ms Knox noticed a car had slipped into the way form the slipway.Mr Walsh told more than one hundred people at the inquest at the Lake of Shadows Hotel in the seaside town how he desperately tried to help. He told how he swam out to jeep and heard children screaming inside the car.As he reached the Audi Q7 jeep, the driver Mr McGrotty was trying to smash the driver’s window with his elbow.When he did this, Mr Walsh told how Mr McGrotty handed out a small child and said “Save the baby, save my baby.”Mr Walsh took the baby and then Mr McGrotty sat up onto the ledge of the driver’s window.As he did so another small child in the jeep tried to get out and Mr Walsh managed to take his hand. However, as he did so, the child’s leg got stuck and water rushed into the jeep.Davitt added “I reached in and grabbed a wee boy but he seemed to get stuck. The father was saying something but I can’t remember. When the driver sat on window ledge, the water just started to gush into the car. I remember the baby was crying.”Amazingly Mr Walsh managed to swim back to the pier with the baby held in the air, which was now a distance of about 25 metres, and he collapsed on the thick algae on the pier.The baby was handed to another woman on the pier and she was taken to Mr Walsh’s car to be heated up. Davitt added “I collapsed on the algae. I could hardly breath I was so tired. A man came and pulled me off the algae. I was freezing and knew I had to get warm.”Mr Francis Crawford, the first person the scene to see the family’s jeep in the water, told the inquest he had been out for a drive around Buncrana Town with his wife Kay in their Toyota Corolla car.The couple travelled down to the pier and parked on the slipway at 7.08pm and Francis said he immediately saw what he thought was a black people carrier in the water at the bottom of the slipway.He remarked to his wife that “there was something badly wrong” and he shouted at the person in the car who was about 3 to 4 yards off the slipway in the water.The man in the car shouted at Mr Crawford to call the coastguard and he dialled 999.He asked for the coastguard service and was immediately put through to the Malin Head Coastguard Station.He told the coastguard member, Mike Mullin, that a car was in the water off the pier with a family in it and that a tragedy was about to happen.He added that it was then that he heard the squeals and crying of children inside the car.Then a man and a woman arrived on the scene.Mr Crawford asked the man, who later turned out to be Davitt Walsh, if he could swim and he replied he could.He pleaded with Mr Walsh to try and swim out to the car.Mr Walsh, who was along with his girlfriend Stephanie Knox, stripped down to his boxer-shorts, and swam out to the troubled car.Mr Crawford said he continued to hear screaming from those inside but he soon saw Mr Walsh coming back to the slipway with a baby in his arms.He said Mr Walsh said to him that he tried to get another boy out but that his leg had got caught.He added that he hoped Mr Walsh would be able to return into the water but that he was simply exhausted.Mrs Kay Crawford gave similar evidence to that of her husband.She added that she noticed there were tyre marks on the slipway but she said she could not say if it was from Mr McGrotty’s vehicle.Garda Sgt Mark Traynor gave those present a picture of the sadness, carnage and devastation which met members of the emergency services when they arrived at the scene of Buncrana Pier that evening.He also agreed that the algae was thick and very slippy on the pier and that his colleagues were also very aware of this.Solicitor for Donegal County Council, Mr Michael Staines, said that almost every pier had algae on it.“The algae was very evident,” added the Garda.During cross-examination, Sgt Traynor told the inquest that a file had been prepared on the incident and sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.He said the recommendation from the DPP was that nobody was to be prosecuted as a result of the tragedy.The inquest was told that the gate leading down to the slipway was open at the time and cars were freely allowed to enter onto it.The only signage on the day was warnings not to swim within 15 metres of the pier.The inquest continues and is expected to last two days and will hear from a total of 12 witnesses.Heroic Davitt tells Buncrana drownings inquest how he almost saved a second child was last modified: November 23rd, 2017 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:buncranaDavitt Walshdonegalinquestpiertragedylast_img

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