Buncrana inquest: Diver describes stuck car doors in Buncrana pier tragedy

RNLI diver John O'Raw at the inquest for five family members who died when their car slipped off Buncrana pier Co Donegal in March 2016 at Lake of Shadows Hotel in Buncrana
RNLI diver John O'Raw at the inquest for five family members who died when their car slipped off Buncrana pier Co Donegal in March 2016 at Lake of Shadows Hotel in Buncrana

A diver was unable to open the doors of the car following the Buncrana pier tragedy, an inquest was told.

John O’Raw, a crew member from the RNLI, reached the vehicle more than half an hour after it was submerged.

He attended a short time after the alert was raised but had to return to his home to get his scuba diving kit.

The car was around 20 metres from the slipway in a depth of about three metres of water, the tailgate was open and it lay flat on sand.

The experienced diver said he was unable to open the doors.

A smashed driver’s window which had bent inwards in the form of a bowl - held together by laminate material - presented a hazard which prevented him from entering the car.

Coroner Denis McCauley said the window was flapping.

Mr O’Raw said the handles of the doors moved freely but did not open the car.

He could see there was nobody in the front but was unable to see into the back because of poor visibility.

Mr O’Raw agreed the window may have been bent when the driver Sean McGrotty sat on it during the last moments before the car sank. Other evidence has shown Mr McGrotty broke the window in a bid to help his family escape.

The passenger windows were intact.