Belfast Telegraph

I thought he was going to die, says rescue hero's girlfriend

By George Jackson

The girlfriend of hero Davitt Walsh said yesterday that she thought her boyfriend was going to die as he rescued a four-month-old baby girl from the sinking family car.

Rionaghac-Ann was the only survivor from the Buncrana pier tragedy that claimed the lives of five of her family.

Moments before her father died Sean McGrotty handed his daughter to Mr Walsh through a broken window of his Audi Q7.

Stephanie Knox, a cardiographer at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry, said she used her training in cardiac physiology to tend to Rionaghac-Ann after the infant had been handed to her by her partner.

She also told how she watched in terror as Davitt swam out to the sinking vehicle.

"It was very traumatic and difficult to stand on the pier and to watch what was unfolding in front of me," she said.

"I saw Davitt swimming out to get the baby. I was afraid for his life as well as for the lives of the people in the car.

"When I saw the car sinking I was afraid that Davitt would dive under the water to try to help the people in the car.

"I shouted at him: 'Davitt come back, Davitt come back'.

"I could see that he was struggling and that he was tiring fast as he held the baby really high up in the air.

"Just before the car sank there was no noise, no screams, you could hear a pin drop on the pier. I went down the slipway and Davitt handed the baby over to me.

"I went off the slipway and went into the water up to my waist. I didn't want to go into the water any further in case no one would get out of the water. I then crawled up the slipway with the baby in my arms. She was not crying and I thought that she was dead.

"I thought I was going to have to do CPR on the baby and then I heard the smallest of coughs coming from her. It was the smallest, faintest cough I have ever heard and I will never forget it. That was the moment when I realised Davitt had done so well.

"I fell on the slipway, but I held the baby tight to me. A man then took the baby off me. When I climbed on to the pier from the slipway I got the baby back off the man and rushed to Davitt's car because I knew if I did not get the baby warm she could die of hypothermia or go into a cardiac arrest, and all of Davitt's work would have been for nothing.

"I took the wet clothes off the baby and wrapped her in my coat and rocked her and tried to comfort her before an ambulance paramedic took her from my arms."

Belfast Telegraph


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