Buncrana pier tragedy woman’s abuse over damages claim

Floral tributes left at Buncrana pier following the deaths of five people trapped in a car which entered the water
Floral tributes left at Buncrana pier following the deaths of five people trapped in a car which entered the water

A woman caught up in the Buncrana pier tragedy that claimed five lives has faced a barrage of abuse over her claim for damages.

Stephanie Knox comforted a baby rescued from a sinking car by her then boyfriend, but later lodged a claim for compensation against Donegal County Council and the insurance company of deceased driver Sean McGrotty.

The first anniversary of the Buncrana pier tragedy in 2017. Photo: Lorcan Doherty / Presseye.com

The first anniversary of the Buncrana pier tragedy in 2017. Photo: Lorcan Doherty / Presseye.com

Ms Knox, a cardiac physiologist, said she didn’t realise the McGrotty family would be directly affected by the claim – and said the backlash has caused her “so much stress and heartache”.

Mr McGrotty, 49, his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, 8, his 59-year-old mother-in-law Ruth Daniels and her daughter Jodie-Lee, 14, died when the Audi Q7 they were travelling in slipped on algae and entered the water on March 20, 2016.

The sole survivor of the tragedy was baby Rioghach-Ann who was rescued after the then boyfriend of Ms Knox swam out to the sinking car.

Ms Knox suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of her experience and instigated proceedings for “loss of earnings and other matters”.

Following the backlash, she told the Irish Independent: “I’m under so much stress and heartache and I would love it to just blow over.”

She added: “I knew there was a claim being made against the council and the insurance company...I know what they’re [the family] going through is hard.”

Sean McGrotty’s father, 86-year-old father Noel McGrotty, told Donegal Now he received the letter notifying him of the legal proceedings last week.

“It was a private delivery and I had to sign for it; it was a big envelope full of legal documents - hard for the ordinary man in the street to understand,” he said.

Last week was the second anniversary of the tragedy.