He looked at me and said ‘Save my baby’ - Buncrana hero describes tragic father's sacrifice
The man who rescued a four-month-baby girl from a sinking car on Buncrana pier last night has been speaking today about the experience.
Davitt Walsh from Kerrykeel in Co Donegal stripped down and swam out to the sinking car as Mr McGrotty screamed for help.
Sean McGrotty, 46, died alongside sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and his wife's 14-year-old sister Jodie Lee when their an Audi Q7 slid off a slip way on the pier in Buncrana into Lough Swilly, on Sunday evening.
Interview with Davitt Walsh, who saved baby Rionaghac-Ann in yesterday’s tragedy in Buncrana https://t.co/a228dN4yDu— RTÉ News (@rtenews) March 21, 2016
“I looked out and could see the distress on the family,” he told RTÉ News.
“The father, the mother, the two women and the children were all screaming ‘Help! Help! Help!’
“I didn’t really think,” he said, turning to his girlfriend Stephaine Knox, “You said go, go and help them, so I took off my clothes, down to my boxers and I just swam out as fast as I could.
“I got out to the family, and just as I got out there, the father was … the window was just half ajar and he started hitting it with his elbow to break it.
“So I was guessing the electrics broke.
“And I started shouting: ‘Please, everybody has to get out of the car, the car’s going to go down, please get out!’
“At this stage, when the windows broke, the father sat out on the ledge of the window, and the water started to seep in.
“And he then handed me the baby infant and he said: ‘Take the baby’.
He added: “The water started coming in, He just looked at me and said, he just said: ‘Save my baby’.
“And then I took the baby, I held it above my head and I swam back to shore. And that’s what happened.”
Mr Walsh said that the father, Sean McGrotty, “could have saved himself, because he was out of the car, but he went back into his family.
Visibly distressed, the man many have hailed as a hero today said that added that the car went down “instantly”.
Frank McGrotty: "I want to thank the man who saved her [baby Rionaghac-Ann], you’re a hero in this family's eyes" https://t.co/JL3qhQMQrv— RTÉ News (@rtenews) March 21, 2016
“I couldn’t do nothing else, the car went down instantly, the whole lot went down, and then it was just so fast and I just took the baby infant back into shore. My girlfriend was waiting at the shore, she took the baby infant off me,” he said.
“I was exhausted on the pier, I just lay there in the algae.”
He sustained injuries in the rescue, needing stitches in his feet, but otherwise fine, adding that he was “shaken”.
“I just feel really, really terrible that I couldn’t do any more for the family. It’s just an awful, awful tragedy.”
Ms Knox also paid tribute to the emergency services, saying that they “unbelievable. They spent so long trying to resuscitate the lady”.