Belfast Telegraph

Buncrana Pier tragedy: Heroic Davitt Walsh battled to pull boy from sinking car

A Buncrana pier tragedy rescuer held a boy's hand and attempted to pull him free from the sinking car.

Heroic Davitt Walsh battled to extract the child from the flooding vehicle as it sank in the freezing waters of Lough Swilly but let go after he feared he would be sucked under the water.

He swam out to the Audi in a desperate bid to avert tragedy and succeeded in rescuing a baby. Five people died.

Mr Walsh said: "I saw a young boy inside the car trying to clamber out past the driver.

"I reached in and grabbed the wee boy, I tried to pull the wee boy out but he seemed to get stuck on something.

"When the driver sat on the window ledge I remember the car tilted and the water then started to gush into the car.

"Just as I was trying to pull the wee boy out of the car the water rushed in and I had to let go.

"The father climbed back into the car, looked back at me and said 'save my baby'."

The water gushed in and the car went under the water.

He added: "I had to let go because I was struggling as hard as I could to avoid getting sucked into the water."

Sean McGrotty handed his four-month-old daughter Rionaghac-Ann to the former footballer through the broken driver's side window just moments before the vehicle sank.

Mr Walsh has been awarded a gold medal for bravery at sea.

The father had sat out of the vehicle on the window ledge, his head and shoulders were out and his hands on the roof but his legs were still inside, Mr Walsh said.

At that stage water which had been seeping in turned into a surge.

Mr Walsh said: "It was like a wave rushing in ... it gushed in."

When he made it back to the slipway and handed the baby to his girlfriend, he collapsed with exhaustion and had to be helped from the slippery surface.

He said: "I could hardly breath, I was so tired."

It was freezing cold and he suffered cuts to his feet which he was treated for in hospital.

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