Tuesday 20 August 2019

Buncrana Inquest: Sean McGrotty died by 'misadventure', jury rules

The pier at Buncrana where five members of the same family lost their lives
The pier at Buncrana where five members of the same family lost their lives

Michael McHugh

The driver of a car which plunged off a pier in Ireland and killed five people died by "misadventure", inquest jurors said.

Sean McGrotty, 49, was over the drink-drive limit when his 4x4 vehicle slid down a treacherous and algae-covered slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal, in March last year, a previous hearing of the inquest was told.

Evan McGrotty, eight, his father Sean, 12-year-old brother Mark, grandmother Ruth Daniels, 59, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels died when their SUV sank after sliding off the "slippery as ice" surface.

Mr McGrotty's four-month-old baby Rioghnach-Ann was saved by an heroic rescuer who entered the freezing waters of Lough Swilly in response to the distressed cries of the children and pleas for help from their father.

The jury's foreman said: "The finding was that death was due to drowning.

"Cause of death was death by misadventure."

Misadventure means jurors think there was risk associated with the events of the day and that somebody had done something that increased the risk of the event happening, the coroner said.

The spokesman for the five men and four women on the jury urged the Irish Water Safety promotional organisation to take a prominent role in advising and working with all interested parties on implementing best international practice for safety on all slipways and piers.

He added: "We hope that this can be implemented as quickly as possible in the light of the tragedy."

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