Friday 9 December 2016

'I honestly think I could have saved more' - Buncrana hero can't understand why he wasn't thrown lifebuoy

Published 27/03/2016 | 13:56

Rescue hero Davitt Walsh cradles baby Rioghnach-Ann, whom he saved from the icy waters. Photo:Derry News
Rescue hero Davitt Walsh cradles baby Rioghnach-Ann, whom he saved from the icy waters. Photo:Derry News
Unimaginable grief: Louise James with partner Sean McGrotty, sons Mark and Evan and baby Rioghnach-Ann who was saved Photo: Family Handout/PA Wire

The hero footballer who saved a baby in the Buncrana disaster has told how he believes he could have saved more if he had been thrown a lifebuoy.

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Davitt Walsh (28) was lauded for his bravery after jumping into the freezing Lough Swilly last week and swimming to a sinking SUV.

He managed to rescue  four-month-old Rioghnach-Ann but Sean McGrotty, 46, his sons Evan (8) and 12-year-old Mark, Ruth Daniels (57) and 14-year-old Jodie Lee Daniels all drowned in the tragedy.

Speaking to the Sunday World Mr Walsh, from Kerrykeel in Co Donegal, said he had one of the boys in his arms but lost his grip due to the pressure of the car.

 “It all happened so quickly but it was as if everything had stopped. People were on the pier and walking around but everybody seemed to be just wondering what was going on.

“I just can’t help feeling I could have done more. I honestly think I could have saved more if someone had thrown me a lifebuoy or something.

Unimaginable grief: Louise James with partner Sean McGrotty, sons Mark and Evan and baby Rioghnach-Ann who was saved Photo: Family Handout/PA Wire
Unimaginable grief: Louise James with partner Sean McGrotty, sons Mark and Evan and baby Rioghnach-Ann who was saved Photo: Family Handout/PA Wire

“There was one on the pier but nobody used it and I don’t know why.

“I’ll probably never know why but I can’t help think that I could have done more or I could have saved others.

“There were people fishing and they didn’t realise what was happening. I just can’t take it all in still,” said Mr Walsh.

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The newspaper reports that one reason so many people did not realise what was happening is that many thought it was part of a training exercise.

An exercise involving the emergency services including the RNLI and the Rescue 118 helicopter took place at the pier for a number of hours and only officially finished around 5pm.

Mr McGrotty’s Audi Q7 SUV went into the water at around 7pm after slipping from the pier.

Read more: Eyewitnesses at Buncrana bring light to the darkness

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