Father who drove family off pier three times over limit
A FATHER who died alongside his two sons, mother-in-law and sister-in-law when his car slipped off a pier was more than three times the legal drink-drive limit, it has been revealed at an inquest.
Sean McGrotty, 46, was driving his Audi Q7 jeep when it slid off a "treacherous" slipway at Buncrana, in Ireland's Donegal, and sunk beneath the waters as horrifed bystanders looked on.
Mr McGrotty's four-month-old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann, was the sole survivor of the pier tragedy in March 2016 after a heroic bystander dashed into the water and rescued the baby girl.
Mr McGrotty and his sons Mark, 11, and Evan, 8, died alongside the man's mother-in law Ruth Daniels and her daughter Jodie-Lee Tracey , 14.
At an inquest, Dr Katrina Dillon told the coroner that Mr McGrotty's blood alcohol level was 159ml per 100ml of blood when he died. The legal limit is 50ml, the Belfast Telegraph reports.
But, on cross-examination, Dr Dillon said she could not say how that level of alcohol would have impaired Mr McGrotty.
That would depend, she said, on whether his alcohol intake was "habitual or accustomed".
At the time of the tragedy, Mr McGrotty's alcohol intake was not known and the incident was blamed on slippery algae on the pier in the town, which is popular with holiday-makers.
The mother of the children, Londonderry woman Louisa James, was returning from a hen weekend in Liverpool when she received news of the tragedy.
When she landed at Belfast Airport, she was told five members of her family had died.
Earlier in the inquest, Davitt Walsh, who saved the baby girl from drowning, told how he desperately tried to rescue the newborn's brother as the tragedy unfolded. He said he held the hand of one of the little boys who died when the car vanished beneath the waters of Lough Swilly.
An emotional Mr Walsh said Mr McGrotty managed to pass the baby girl out through a smashed window.
"I reached in and grabbed the wee boy. I tried to pull him out but he seemed to get stuck on something.
"Just as I was trying to pull him out of the car, the water rushed in and I had to let go. I had to let go because I was struggling as hard as I could to avoid getting sucked into the water.
"The father climbed back into the car, looked back and me and said 'save my baby'.
The water gushed in and the car went under the water."
The inquest is expected to last two days.