A former Lisburn Distillery player has been hailed a hero after he saved baby Rioghnach-Ann McGrotty from the water at Buncrana Pier on Sunday night, in the accident which claimed the lives of five of her family members.
The four month old girl was handed to former Whites striker Davitt Walsh after he swam to the aid of the striken family.
The local club has spoken of their ‘pride’ in Davitt’s actions after the former Irish League and League of Ireland footballer swam out to help the family, after their car slid off a slipway on the pier in Buncrana into Lough Swilly on Sunday evening.
Speaking about Davitt Walsh’s heroics, Lisburn Distillery Secretary Colin Hopkins commented: “It is with a sense of pride that Lisburn Distillery noted the role played by our former player Davitt Walsh, whose heroics were able to save the life of baby Rioghnach McGrotty in the recent tragedy that occurred at Buncrana earlier this week.
“Although Davitt was only with the club for a short time we would hope that his courage and bravery will shine as a great example for all of those young players who currently play under the banner of Lisburn Distillery Football club.”
Mr Walsh swam out into Buncrana harbour in an effort to reach the six people.
“Just as I got out there the father had the window half ajar, and he started hitting it with his elbow to break it,” he said.
“I started shouting, ‘please everyone has to get out of the car – the car is going to go down, everyone has to get out. I just couldn’t get the doors open and neither could they. The electrics must have went. I was pulling and I was telling them they had to get out of the car quickly but they couldn’t.”
He added: “At this stage, with the window broken, the father sat out on the ledge, and the water started to seep in. He handed me the baby infant and he said ‘take the baby’. I took the baby, and I said ‘someone else’, I wanted to save more people. I had a grip of another, I think he was about 12 years old but he was pulled away from me somehow.”
He added: “The water started going in. The father just looked at me and said, ‘save my baby’. I took the baby and held it above my head and I swam back to shore. Every now and again the baby was looking down at me.”