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Buncrana pier rescue hero Davitt Walsh relives agony of letting go of boy's hand to save baby

By Staff Reporter

Published 06/05/2016

Davitt Walsh with his partner Stephanie Knox
Davitt Walsh with his partner Stephanie Knox
Davitt with rescued baby Riognach-Ann
Davitt with Louise James at the Belfast marathon
The scene of the tragedy

Buncrana pier tragedy hero Davitt Walsh spoke movingly last night of the traumatic moment he had to let go the hand of 12-year-old Mark McGrotty in order to save baby Rioghnach-Ann.

Speaking on a special ITV programme on what makes people intervene to help strangers in trouble - even at great personal risk to themselves - Davitt and girlfriend Stephanie Knox shared their memories of the drowning tragedy that claimed five lives.

His voice full of emotion, Davitt recalled the moment he and Stephanie realised there was a car in the water at Buncrana pier.

"It was a really beautiful evening, so we decided to go down to the beach, get a few photos, just like a normal Sunday for us," Davitt told the programme.

"We'd been talking for a few minutes, and then decided to go home.

"That's when Steph just happened to look back - I don't know why she looked back, but she did, and said: 'There's a car in the middle of the water!'"

Sean McGrotty's car, which had been parked on the steep slipway for the family to watch the sunset, had skidded on the coating of algae, and slipped off the pier into the lough - with the family inside.

Davitt said he did not think twice about what he should do. In seconds, he was already preparing to swim out to the McGrotty's car.

"I'd already made the decision that I was going in while I was in our car - I was taking my clothes off, and I looked at the family and they were calling for the Coastguards, calling for help.

"We thought that we were just going to swim out to the car and bring the family in."

The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST   24/03/2016 The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight.  The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Pictured is eye witness Francis Crawford. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Pictured is Martin McGuinness. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 Louise James (front -left) one of five Coffins during The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 Louise James (front -left) one of five Coffins during The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 Francis Crawford ( who raised the alarm) during The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Alan Lewis- PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 24-3-2016 Today's funerals in Londonderry of the family of five who drowned at Buncrana pier tragedy at the weekend in Donegal.
Funeral of Derry family who drowned in Buncrana Co-Donegal pier accident. 24-3-16 The funeral for five members of the McGrotty/Daniels family taking place at Holy Family Church in Derry city on Thursday. Louise James lost her partner Sean McGrotty, sons Mark and Evan, sister Jodie-Lee Daniels and mother Ruth Daniels. The jeep the victims were in slipped off the pier at Buncrana in Co-Donegal on Sunday night. A four month old baby girl was rescued from the vehicle. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line 24-3-16 see story
LOUISE JAMES (BLACK COAT) CARRIES ONE OF HER YOUNG SONS - Funeral of Derry family who drowned in Buncrana Co-Donegal pier accident. 24-3-16 The funeral for five members of the McGrotty/Daniels family taking place at Holy Family Church in Derry city on Thursday. Louise James lost her partner Sean McGrotty, sons Mark and Evan, sister Jodie-Lee Daniels and mother Ruth Daniels. The jeep the victims were in slipped off the pier at Buncrana in Co-Donegal on Sunday night. A four month old baby girl was rescued from the vehicle. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line 24-3-16 see story
Funeral of Derry family who drowned in Buncrana Co-Donegal pier accident. 24-3-16 The funeral for five members of the McGrotty/Daniels family taking place at Holy Family Church in Derry city on Thursday. Louise James lost her partner Sean McGrotty, sons Mark and Evan, sister Jodie-Lee Daniels and mother Ruth Daniels. The jeep the victims were in slipped off the pier at Buncrana in Co-Donegal on Sunday night. A four month old baby girl was rescued from the vehicle. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line 24-3-16 see story
The final hearse arrives at the Holy Family chapel, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry for the funeral of the five people killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Hearses arrive at the Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry for the funeral of the five people killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Mourners arrive at the Holy Family church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry for the funeral of the five people killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Coffins are place into hearses at the Holy Family church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry after the funeral of the five people who were killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Louise James (front left) who lost her partner, two sons, sister and mother carries a coffin out of the Holy Family church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry after the funeral of the five people who were killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Louise James (right) who lost her partner, two sons, sister and mother carries a coffin out of the Holy Family church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry after the funeral of the five people who were killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Mourners outside the Holy Family church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry after the funeral of the five people who were killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Louise James (right) who lost her partner, two sons, sister and mother carries a coffin out of the Holy Family church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry after the funeral of the five people who were killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Louise James (front left) who lost her partner, two sons, sister and mother carries a coffin out of the Holy Family church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry after the funeral of the five people who were killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PA
Funeral of Derry family who drowned in Buncrana Co Donegal pier accident. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight.  The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
The funerals of Sean McGrotty, 46, his two young sons Mark 12, and Evan, 8, Ruth Daniels, 57, the mother of Mr McGrottys partner Louise, who was in England at the time and Ms Daniels teenage daughter Jodie-Lee,15, who died when their car slipped into the water from a slipway in Buncrana at the weekend. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 24.03.17
The funerals of Sean McGrotty, 46, his two young sons Mark 12, and Evan, 8, Ruth Daniels, 57, the mother of Mr McGrottys partner Louise, third from left and Ms Daniels teenage daughter Jodie-Lee,15, who died when their car slipped into the water from a slipway in Buncrana at the weekend. The only survivor of the tragedy was Mr. McGrottys baby Rioghnach James. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 24.03.17
The funerals of Sean McGrotty, 46, his two young sons Mark 12, and Evan James, 8, Ruth Daniels, 57, the mother of Mr McGrottys partner Louise, who was in England at the time and Ms Daniels teenage daughter Jodie-Lee,15, who died when their car slipped into the water from a slipway in Buncrana at the weekend. The only survivor of the tragedy was Mr. McGrottys baby Rioghnach James. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 24.03.17
The funerals of Sean McGrotty, 46, his two young sons Mark 12, and Evan James, 8, Ruth Daniels, 57, the mother of Mr McGrottys partner Louise, who was in England at the time and Ms Daniels teenage daughter Jodie-Lee,15, who died when their car slipped into the water from a slipway in Buncrana at the weekend. The only survivor of the tragedy was Mr. McGrottys baby Rioghnach James. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 24.03.17
The funerals of Sean McGrotty, 46, his two young sons Mark 12, and Evan James, 8, Ruth Daniels, 57, the mother of Mr McGrottys partner Louise, who was in England at the time and Ms Daniels teenage daughter Jodie-Lee,15, who died when their car slipped into the water from a slipway in Buncrana at the weekend. The only survivor of the tragedy was Mr. McGrottys baby Rioghnach James. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 24.03.17
Louise James, in black, places her son Evan in a hearse. The funerals of Sean McGrotty, 46, his two young sons Mark 12, and Evan James, 8, Ruth Daniels, 57, the mother of Mr McGrottys partner Louise, who was in England at the time and Ms Daniels teenage daughter Jodie-Lee,15, who died when their car slipped into the water from a slipway in Buncrana at the weekend. The only survivor of the tragedy was Mr. McGrottys baby Rioghnach James. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 24.03.17
Louise McGrotty and brother Josh carry remains of their sister Jodi-Lee into their Hazelbank home
Louise McGrotty with baby Rioghnach-Ann, who survived the tragedy, and son Evan (8), who lost his life
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
Jodie Lee Daniels
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
Sean McGrotty
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
Proud granny Ruth Daniels gives Mark and Evan McGrotty a hug
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
Sean McGrotty (49) with son Mark (12)
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
Ruth Daniels (59) with daughter Jodi-Lee (14)
Sean McGrotty and his two sons Evan and Mark died at the scene. His partner Louise wasn’t present at the time of the tragedy, but her baby Rioghnach-Ann, whom she is cradling here, was rescued
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
Jodi-Lee playing with nephew Evan
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
The family’s Q7 which slid into Lough Swilly
Buncrana pier tragedy: Former Ballymena United footballer Davitt Walsh heroically dived into the water and saved baby. Image: RTE News
Mark (12) and eight-year-old Evan.
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Sean McGrotty
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Ruth Daniels
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Jodie Lee Daniels.
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Jodie-Lee Daniels.
Martin McGuinness at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Jodie Lee Daniels
Garda Superintendent Colm Nevin speaks to the media. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
John McCarthy from the RNLI at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Jodie Lee Daniels
Francis Crawford Who raised the alarm, at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Francis Crawford Who raised the alarm, at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Garda at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Francis Crawford Who raised the alarm, at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Presseye
Francis Crawford Who raised the alarm, at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Presseye
Francis Crawford Who raised the alarm, at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Joe Bolan / Press Eye
Tributes left at the scene of the tragedy. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Emergency services on the pier at Buncrana after yesterday’s tragic accident
Rescue services at the pier in Buncrana where a family of five perished after their car slide into Loch Swilly
The pier in daylight
Algae on the slipway which would have made it difficult for the vehicle to get any traction
An Audi Q7 like the one in which the family got trapped

It took just a few seconds before Davitt was in the water, swimming strongly toward the McGrotty's car as it began to drift away from the slipway into deeper water.

"I was about halfway out when I started saying to myself 'What am I going to do to help here?' I knew that the car was going to go down very, very soon."

When strong swimmer Davitt reached the car, Sean McGrotty handed him his baby daughter, before struggling to free his 12-year-old son, Mark.

Davitt said: "I had the baby in one hand and the next thing the Dad just went back into he car.

"He turned round to me and he just said: 'Save the baby'.

"I still had Mark's hand - and then I had to let go - he was going to pull me in as the car went down. It all happened in seconds.

It took all Davitt's strength to swim away with the baby as the car went down: no one else survived.

The programme said Mr Walsh has rightly been hailed a hero, but last night he and girlfriend Stephanie revealed that they were still haunted by a sense of guilt at not being able to save the others.

"I was in bits about it," Davitt said. "I didn't really take it on that I had saved the baby. I just looked at the negative - I'd left the family out there - and I couldn't help them."

Stephanie revealed that she has vivid dreams about saving people.

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