Belfast Telegraph

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Donegal drowning horror a tragedy made more difficult to understand by its randomness

By Malachi O'Doherty

Published 25/03/2016

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

One of the shocking things about the Buncrana pier tragedy, the element of the whole horror that appals everyone and that makes it unforgettable, is the ghastly fluke at the heart of it.

Most of us have heard of nothing like it, though many of us have taken cars on to Donegal piers and wondered for a moment how bad things could get on the simplest miscalculation.

Many of us have sat during an evening in the car looking out across the water on a peaceful scene and can feel, in imagination, the gulf between the contentment of a placid moment, watching the sunset, and the sudden terror.

None of us want to put ourselves in imagination into that car in the moments when a slip turned into a catastrophe, when something that shouldn't happen did. This has been a week of tragedies, including the death and funeral of prison officer Adrian Ismay and the slaughter in Brussels, but even against such a dark backdrop the Buncrana accident seems distinctive by its meaninglessness.

There was no malice behind it, nor forethought given to it; it was random; could have been any of us, on any other night.

The McGrotty and Daniels families have to cope with a grief that came out of the blue on a scale that is unsustainable.

Even the one marvellous part of the story, the heroic intervention by Davitt Walsh that saved baby Rioghnach-Ann, seems tainted by his own doubts.

Meeting the child's mother on Tuesday, to hear her gratitude, he appeared to be worrying over his inability to save others in the family. By a cruel irony, the heroism that the whole country applauds has turned not into pride, but self doubt.

Louise assured him: "No, you did what you had to do. You did the right thing."

As mourners heard yesterday, he told her: "I needed to hear that from you."

In the days after the accident we learnt that it was not entirely the freakish and inconceivable event that it had seemed, and stories emerged on social media and in the news of others who had come close to the same horror, lost their grip on that incline - it is actually called a 'slipway'.

What seemed a cruel chance, a mischief of the fortunes, now appears to be something that could have been predicted and prevented by better maintenance of the pier, by clear warnings, by measures that will now look like simple common sense, but which before last Sunday were more bother than they seemed to be worth.

Belfast Telegraph

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