Buncrana Pier had experienced similar incidents, RNLI volunteer tells inquest into tragedy

Buncrana Pier had experienced similar incidents, RNLI volunteer tells inquest into tragedy

AN INQUEST into the Buncrana Pier tragedy in Co. Donegal, which claimed the lives of five people when a car slipped into the sea, has heard there were similar incidents at the location.

Sean McGrotty, 49, his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, 8, his partner's mother Ruth Daniels, 57, and Ms Daniels' daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, 14, all died in the tragedy.

Mr McGrotty’s four-month-old daughter Ríoghnach-Ann was rescued from the Audi car by former footballer Davitt Walsh.

On the second day of the inquest, RNLI volunteer diver John O’Raw revealed he personally knew of three similar incidents at the pier over his career.

He said: “I am aware of other incidents that have occurred there. I am personally aware probably of three incidents over a 17-year career."

Mr O'Raw entered the water 40 minutes after the alarm was raised but said he was unable to open the doors.

He added that the driver's window was half intact and was bowed inwards.

He managed to get his head in through a window and could see there was no one in the two front seats, but with visibility an issue he was unable to see into the rest of the car.

Public Service Vehicle Inspector Garda Damien Mulkearns, who examined the car the day after the tragedy, said the laminated windows woud have affected how the glass behaved after it was shattered.

He said it would take the same force to break as non-laminated glass, but that the lamination may have held the pane together instead of shattering into pieces.

However he said he found the 2006 vehicle to be roadworthy, with no mechanical issues, while the front tyres were in fair condition and the rear tyres in good condition.

Solicitors for the McGrotty family and for Mr McGrotty’s partner, Louise James, thanked Mr O'Raw and his colleagues in the RNLI for their efforts on the day.