A MAN, woman, two young boys and a girl are dead following a tragic car accident on Buncrana pier in Co. Donegal.
The fatal incident happened last night, around 7.30pm, when police believe the car carrying a mother, father and four young children “slipped” from the pier into the water.
The pier is popular with visitors who want to watch the sun set, but locals say cars have gotten into difficulty in the same spot previously.
A major rescue operation by Gardaí, Emergency Services and the Coast Guard begun yesterday evening with the car, thought to be registered to the North of Ireland, being pulled from the water about 9pm.
A statement from the police confirmed that “five bodies” were recovered from the water. The statement said one male adult and two male children along with two females, “one adult and the age of the second to be established” were taken from the car.
A fourth child in the car, a baby girl, later confirmed by Supt Colm Nevin to be four months old was rescued by a bystander and was rushed to Letterkenny University Hospital by ambulance.
During a press conference at 12noon today, Superintendant Nevin said Gardaí believe the victims are from the Derry area.
The five bodies were also taken to Letterkenny General Hospital where post mortems are to be arranged.
The baby is currently in a stable condition at Letterkenny General Hospital.
Eyewitness Francis Crawford spoke to BBC Radio Foyle about what he saw.
“I phoned 999, I explained there was a car in the water and there’s a family in it that’s going to be sinking,” he said.
“A fella came over and I asked him if he could swim, he stripped off to his underwear and headed out and it was great that he did.
“He was totally exhausted, I think if he had another five yards to go I don’t see how he could have made it.
“He was shouting ‘grab the baby, grab the baby’. He was taken to hospital, he was cut and different things but very heroic and he saved the wee baby’s life.”
“I would like to thank the public who came to the assistance of these people last night in their time of distress, particularly the local person that took the baby from the vehicle,” Supt Nevin said.
Gardaí are treating the matter as a “tragic accident” at present and do not suspect this was an act of self-harm.
— Barry Whyte (@BarryWhyte85) March 20, 2016
Very sad news from Buncrana. Thoughts and prayers will all touched by this tragedy.
— Jim Allister (@JimAllister) March 20, 2016
*This story was updated at 13.22 on 21/03/16 to add new information made public by An Garda Síochána during a press conference