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Memorial walk held to mark first anniversary of Buncrana pier tragedy

By Donna Deeney

Louise James described the loss of five members of her family in a tragic drowning in Buncrana, Co Donegal as "devastating" but she wanted to mark the first anniversary of their deaths doing "something positive".

Ms 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.

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.

" Our family and friends have been raising funds for clinical research into the disease ever since Evan’s diagnosis.

"It’s too late to help Evan now, but we can still help other boys who have the same life-limiting condition. "

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