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Buncrana pier hero Davitt Walsh keen to be a big part of baby Rioghnach-Ann's life

By Cate McCurry

Published 06/04/2016

Davitt Walsh with the baby he rescued, little Rioghnach-Ann
Davitt Walsh with the baby he rescued, little Rioghnach-Ann
Buncrana tragedy hero Davitt Walsh

The hero who saved a baby in the Buncrana tragedy has told how he is looking forward to being part of the little girl's life and cannot wait to see her growing up.

Davitt Walsh (28) was praised after jumping into Lough Swilly, swimming out to the sinking car and saving four-month-old Rioghnach-Ann McGrotty after she was passed to him.

The baby's father Sean McGrotty (46), his sons Evan (8) and Mark (12), mother-in-law Ruth Daniels (57) and 14-year-old sister-in-law Jodi-Lee Daniels all died in the horrifying accident.

The former footballer said he had been inundated with messages of support after his heroic rescue and thanked Rioghnach-Ann's mother Louise for all her help in the aftermath.

He posted to his Facebook page: "While reflecting today on all that has happened, I would like to say that I am overwhelmed by all the messages and posts that I have received.

"It's impossible for me to reply to everyone individually, but I have read them all.

"It's your kindness and sincerity that has given me great strength and enabled me to cope. So I would like to thank you all so much for this. Louise has been an inspiration and a great comfort. She is an exceptional woman.

"Rioghnach-Ann is a beautiful baby and I look forward to being a part of her life and to seeing her growing up.

"Sean, Mark, Evan, Ruth and Jodi-Lee are now together in heaven. God Bless."

Davitt was pictured cradling the baby in his arms after Louise thanked him for saving her daughter's life at the heartbreaking funeral for her five family members.

In a previous interview, Mr Walsh said he could have saved more lives in the disaster if he had been thrown a lifebuoy.

Speaking to Sunday World, Mr Walsh said he had one of the boys in his arms but lost his grip because of the pressure of the car.

"It all happened so quickly, but it was as if everything had stopped," Mr Walsh told the paper.

"People were on the pier and walking around, but everybody seemed to be just wondering what was going on. I just can't help feeling I could have done more.

"I honestly think I could have saved more if someone had thrown me a lifebuoy or something.

"There was one on the pier, but nobody used it and I don't know why.

"I'll probably never know why, but I can't help but think that I could have done more or I could have saved others.

"There were people fishing and they didn't realise what was happening.

"I just can't take it all in still."

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