Donegal hero's regret that he couldn't help rest of family

Davitt Walsh
Davitt Walsh

THE heroic man who saved a baby in the Don­egal drowning disaster says he can't stop thinking he could have saved more people if he had been thrown a lifesaving ring.

Davitt Walsh has become an unlikely hero after jump­ing into the freezing waters of Lough Swilly after a jeep containing six people slipped off Buncrana Pier last Sunday.

The 28-year-old former League of Ireland footballer almost managed to save another of the young boys in the car but he was dragged from his grip by the pressure of the car.

But today, Davitt from Kerry­keel, reveals how everything happened so quickly that people on the pier were left stunned by the hor­rendous events.

Davitt with girlfriend Stephanie Knox

"It all happened so quickly but it was as if everything had stopped.

"People were on the pier and walking around but everybody seemed to be just wondering what was going on.

"I just can't help feeling I could have done more. I honestly think I could have saved more if some­one had thrown me a life buoy or something.

"There was one on the pier but nobody used it and I don't know why.

"I'll probably never know why but I can't help think that I could have done more or I could have saved others.

"There were people fishing and they didn't realise what was hap­pening. I just can't take it all in still," said Davitt.

It has now been revealed that one reason so many people did not realise what was happening is that many thought it was part of a training exercise.

An exercise involving the emer­gency services including the RNLI and the Rescue 118 helicopter took place at the pier for a number of hours and only officially finished around 5pm.

Many of those who earlier took part in this training drill rushed back to the scene of the unfolding tragedy in a rescue bid.

But despite getting back to the pier in a matter of just minutes, it was too late.

The remains of three of the five who drowned in the car were now floating in the water and were quickly recovered.

A full investigation into the conditions on the slipway is being carried out, while Donegal County Council say they will make no fur­ther comment on the matter until that investigation is completed.

Stephen Maguire