Thursday 22 August 2019

'My heart is shattered' - Louise James makes emotional statement as inquest concludes

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
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

The woman who lost five family members in the Buncrana pier tragedy has said the slipway their car rolled off was an “accident waiting to happen.”

Louise James said her heart was “shattered” and every moment of every day was filled with thoughts of her beautiful boys, Mark (12) and Evan (8), her sister Jodie Lee and her partner Sean McGrotty.

Louise’s statement was read out by her solicitor after an inquest  jury returned verdicts of death by misadventure following  the drowning of her partner, their two sons, her mother and her sister.

The inquests, which had been heard over two days at Inishowen Coroner’s Court, closed after the jury made its findings, along with recommendations for best international safety practices and standards at all Irish piers.

Sean McGrotty (49) Evan and Mark; Louise's mother Ruth Daniels (57) and her sister Jodie Lee Tracey (14) all lost their lives in the accident on March 20, 2016.

Speaking outside the inquest at the Lake of Shadows Hotel in Buncrana, solicitor Robert Anderson read out a statement on Louise’s behalf.

Louise James pictured with her Solicitor, Robert Anderson after The Buncrana Pier Tragedy Inquest at THe Lake of Shadows Hotel, Buncrana, Co. Donegal
Louise James pictured with her Solicitor, Robert Anderson after The Buncrana Pier Tragedy Inquest at THe Lake of Shadows Hotel, Buncrana, Co. Donegal

“It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I have listened to the evidence that has emerged in the course of this inquest,” the statement began. “There are simply no words capable of expressing my pain and disbelief and indeed my anger over what happened on that fateful day. My heart is shattered.

“Every moment of every day is filled with thoughts of my beautiful boys mark and Evan, my mother Ruth my sister Jodie Lee and my partner Sean.

“The one ray of sunshine in my life is my beautiful daughter Riognach who survived this horrible tragedy and for that I must once again thank Davitt and all those others who helped to save her on that day,” the statement continued.

“I firmly believe that the slipway should have been closed to the general public or else proper warning signs displayed as it was an accident waiting to happen. Hopefully, lessons will be learned and the recommendations made following this inquest will be implemented.

"Finally, regarding Sean, notwithstanding the evidence that has emerged, I wish to add that he was a wonderful partner to me and an adoring father to his children. He lived for them. And it is clear from what this inquest has heard that in fact he died as he lived in that he could have saved himself but chose not to.”

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