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Saturday 25 February 2017

Mum who lost family in Buncrana tragedy runs marathon for her son

Cate McCurry

Louise James with Davitt Walsh at the Belfast Marathon. Photo: Declan Roughan
Louise James with Davitt Walsh at the Belfast Marathon. Photo: Declan Roughan

A mother who lost five members of her family when their car slid off Buncrana pier embraced friends and runners as she crossed the finishing line at Belfast City Marathon only six weeks after the tragedy.

Louise James paid an emotional tribute to more than 100 runners - among them Davitt Walsh, the hero who saved her baby daughter from drowning in the accident. She was among a team who ran the race in a relay.

She told of how her son Evan (8), who suffered from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, would have been "proud" of all the participants who ran the marathon in his honour.

Ms James' partner Sean McGrotty (46) died alongside Evan, her other son Mark (12), her mother Ruth Daniels (57), and her sister Jodie Lee Daniels (14) when their SUV sank after sliding off a slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal, in March.

Ms James, from Derry, thanked everyone who had donated to Muscular Dystrophy UK. "You did something remarkable in Evan's name and to celebrate his life. I know he would be proud," she said.

"Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a heart-breaking condition. There are hundreds of young people who live with it today. We need to help make sure that children and their families in the future don't face the same fears and challenges that we did.

"It means so much that people who knew Evan and my family, and many who didn't, have come together like this."

Mr Walsh, who jumped into the water and saved Ms James' four-month-old daughter, Rioghnach-Ann, was among those who completed a leg of the marathon to raise funds.

He said he was still learning to deal with the tragedy but hopes he has found a life-long friendship with the mother and daughter.

Irish Independent

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