Belfast Telegraph

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Floral tributes a symbol of sadness on a sandy beach following pier tragedy

Published 21/03/2016

Louise McGrotty with baby Rioghnach-Ann, who survived the tragedy, and son Evan (8), who lost his life
Louise McGrotty with baby Rioghnach-Ann, who survived the tragedy, and son Evan (8), who lost his life
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
Proud granny Ruth Daniels gives Mark and Evan McGrotty a hug
Sean McGrotty (49) with son Mark (12)
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

They came clutching flowers with despair and disbelief etched on their faces.

Their bright bouquets of daffodils and tulips were in stark contrast to the grey cloudy skies which hung over Buncrana, reflecting the sombre mood of the Co Donegal town.

Locals expressed sadness at the tragedy that saw five people lose their lives
Locals expressed sadness at the tragedy that saw five people lose their lives

Locals walking on the sandy beach which leads on to the large pier spoke in hushed tones of their shock and horror about what unfolded just after sunset on what was a beautiful spring evening.

Nicole Denby, who travelled from Londonderry with her two children, said she felt compelled to pay tribute.

"I didn't know the family at all but, I am a mum and I am just heartbroken," she said wiping away tears from behind her sunglasses.

"I just can't stop thinking about them."

Others hugged each other at the police cordon and gazed out over a calm Lough Swilly reflecting on yet one of the darkest days in history of the seaside resort.

One elderly woman from Buncrana said: "It was such a beautiful day, for something like this to happen - we just can't take it in.

"My heart goes out to the family."

Meanwhile, rescuers who had battled against time and the odds to try and save the stricken family also returned to the scene with heavy hearts.

Joe Joyce, from Lough Swilly RNLI, said some members were being offered counselling.

He recalled: "There were three people floating in the water. Each of the boats recovered a person from the water and commenced CPR and came back to shore and handed those casualties over to the emergency services.

"Once we located the car one of our members put on a snorkel and entered the water and recovered a further two bodies.

"There is just a numbness about what happened. Such a simple thing. It is very, very hard to take it all in. Whilst we train for this nothing can prepare you for what happened yesterday evening."

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