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Buncrana tragedy mum Louise makes emotional visit to school where sister was pupil

By David Young

Published 27/05/2016

Louise James and baby Rioghnach-Ann at St Mary's College in Derry
Louise James and baby Rioghnach-Ann at St Mary's College in Derry
Davitt Walsh with Louise at the recent Belfast Marathon
The scene of the Buncrana tragedy;
The victims of the Buncrana tragedy: (clockwise from top left) Louise’s partner Sean McGrotty, their two sons Mark and Evan, sister Jodie Lee Daniels and her mother Ruth
Louise James with little Rioghnach-Ann holding a treasured picture of her late sister
Davitt with Rioghnach-Ann a few days after he’d rescued her

Buncrana pier tragedy mum Louise James has returned to the Londonderry school where her younger sister Jodie Lee was studying before she died alongside four members of her family

On Wednesday Louise and little survivor Rioghnach-Ann visited staff at St Mary's College to remember Jodie Lee.

In a Twitter post, school principal Marie Lindsay said: "Two very special visitors, Jodie Lee's sister Louise & baby Rioghnach-Ann #courage #strength #inspiring."

The school community was left devastated when Jodie Lee, her mother Ruth Daniels, brother-in-law Sean McGrotty and two nephews, Mark and Evan, all drowned when their Audi 4x4 car slid off Buncrana pier in March.

Baby Rioghnach-Ann was the only survivor of the tragedy after she was pulled from the water by passer-by Davitt Walsh, a former League of Ireland footballer

Without a moment's thought for his own safety, Mr Walsh dived into the chilly waters in an heroic bid to rescue the trapped family. Following the tragedy, a tribute on the school's website said: "Jodie Lee was described by her form teacher Mr Sean McBride as 'a beautiful, loving, caring, funny and intelligent young lady who brought a glow of happiness into St Mary's College'.

"She always had a big smile on her face and had an infectious laugh.

"He said it was an honour getting to know this wonderful young person.

"Jodie Lee was loved dearly by all of her classmates as well as others who knew her throughout the school.

"She made a great contribution to the life of the school and to the life of her form class C17.

"The impact of this devastating event has deeply scarred all those who knew her.

"Her loss will be felt forever in St Mary's College.

"She will always be in our thoughts and prayers.

"May she rest in peace."

Messages of support and sympathy appeared on social media following Louise's visit.

Geraldine McGrattan posted: "Very sad, may God send you all the strength you need very brave lady."

And Eileen McShane said: "Bless you both you are amazing xxx"

Earlier this month Louise ran in the Belfast Marathon in memory of Evan to raise money for a muscular dystrophy charity, a condition the youngster had suffered from.

by david young

Belfast Telegraph

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