Belfast Telegraph

Hundreds turn out in memory of Buncrana Pier tragedy family

By Donna Deeney

The woman who lost five members of her family in a tragic drowning in Buncrana a year ago last night said she was glad she was marking the first anniversary of their deaths doing "something positive".

Louise James lost her partner Sean McGrotty (48), their two sons, Mark (12) and Evan (8), her mother Ruth Daniels (58) and her sister, Jodie-Lee (14) after their car slid on algae on the pier and was submerged into the Lough Swilly.

Remarkably, Louise and Sean's baby daughter, Rioghnach, who was also in the car, survived after her father passed her to a member of the public - Davitt Walsh - who had swum out to try and rescue them.

Yesterday evening, as dusk was falling in Londonderry, 1,200 people joined members of the McGrotty and Daniels families in a memorial walk for the family to raise money for Evan McGrotty Research Fund for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Five red and white balloons were released into the air, five times along the route from the Foyle Quay across the Peace Bridge into Ebrington Square and St Columb's Park in a poignant reminder of the five lives lost. Speaking ahead of the walk, Ms James said: "My youngest son, Evan, was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy when he was only three years of age. He lived with the condition for the rest of his short life, but never let it define him and never let it defeat him.

"The Buncrana tragedy was a devastating event in our lives but I hope to do something positive on its first anniversary and generate some support for the campaign to find a cure for DMD.

"It's too late to help Evan now, but we can still help other boys who have the same life-limiting condition." Many of Jodie-Lee's school friends from St Mary's College were among the walkers.

Sarah McKinney from Buncrana, who was also taking part, said: "It is a beautiful thing that the families are doing here and I just wanted to contribute. It is a beautiful evening which has made it more special."

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