Family died after auto slid off 'ice-like' pier into sea

Sean Mc Grotty and his son Evan 8 who died when Mc Grotty drove his Audi off a pier

Sean Mc Grotty and his son Evan 8 who died when Mc Grotty drove his Audi off a pier

Witnesses estimated it took 12 minutes from the point at which they realised the SUV was in the water to when the emergency services arrived, by which time the family was missing.

Mr McGrotty died, along with his sons Evan, eight, and Mark, 12, the boys' grandmother Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter, Jodie Lee Daniels.

However, she stated that she could not judge how this level would have impacted Mr McGrotty as each individual is different.

She said: "I got a feeling something wasn't right".

No barrier prevented people from accessing the slipway and no signs were displayed warning specifically of the danger.

It was in the water, parallel to the slipway, with the driver's side facing him.

A verdict is due today as the inquest into the Buncrana Pier tragedy comes to a close.

After the coastguard hung up, the driver was shouting at him for help, Mr Crawford continued in his deposition.

Mr Crawford said that he parked about half way down the slipway and saw a black people carrier about three to four yards off the slipway in the water and nearly parallel to it with the driver's side facing it. "I could hear the children squealing and crying".

Five people died after the auto they were in ruled off the pier and into the water off the Donegal village in March 2016.

As Mr Walsh took the tot another small child in the jeep tried to get out and Mr Walsh managed to take his hand.

He said at that stage water that had been seeping in turned into a surge.

Sean Mc Grotty with wife Louise baby Rionaghac-Ann and sons Evan 8 and Mark 12
SUPPLIED Sean Mc Grotty with wife Louise baby Rionaghac-Ann and sons Evan 8 and Mark 12

"He said "I know, I know", Mr Crawford recalled.

He told the inquest that the child's foot got caught just seconds before the auto went under the water.

Mr Walsh told Mr Crawford he thought there were four people in the auto - two adults and two children.

He said the auto disappeared just as he heard sirens of approaching vehicles.

Mr Walsh told the inquest that when he realised the situation he swam straight to the vehicle and as he arrived Mr McGrotty smashed a window and handed the baby out to him.

The emergency services then arrived and he saw attempts to resuscitate one person that he was told was a woman.

He added: "In 2016 you have open access to a slipway covered in algae and in 2017 you have the slipway power-washed, cleaned, in excellent condition, and the gate closed and nobody can go down".

He said that it had happened about ten times before, but always with single people in the cars who were able to get out.

She clarified, when asked by the Coroner, Dr. Denis McCauley, that the current legal alcohol limit was 50 mlg. per decimetre, this limit having been reduced from 80 mlg/d back in 2011.

They could only make their determination on what they hear at the inquest, he said.

An inquest is taking place today into the deaths.

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