herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

Pier hero who saved baby joins grieving mum on charity run

Louise James and Davitt Walsh
Louise James and Davitt Walsh

A mother who lost five members of her family when their car slid off a pier said her young son would have been "proud" of all those who took part in the Belfast City Marathon in his honour.

Louise James paid an emotional tribute to more than 100 runners - including hero Davitt Walsh who saved her baby daughter from drowning in the accident - after they joined her to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy UK.

It is a cause close to her heart as her eight-year-old son Evan, who died in the Co Donegal tragedy, suffered from the condition.

Louise's partner, Sean McGrotty (46), died alongside Evan, her other son Mark (12), her mother Ruth Daniels (57) and her sister Jodie Lee Daniels (14), when their SUV sank after going off a slipway in Buncrana in March.

Around 18,000 people took part in the marathon, and Louise went on to thank everyone who don- ated to Muscular Dystro- phy UK.

Celebrate

"You did something remarkable in Evan's name and to celebrate his life. I know he would be proud," she said. "It means so much that people who knew Evan and my family, and many who didn't, have come together like this."

Davitt, who jumped into the water and saved Louise's four-month-old daughter, Rioghnach-Ann, was among those who ran to raise funds for the charity.

He said he is still learning to deal with the tragedy, but hopes he has found a life-long friendship with Louise and the baby.

"It was fantastic to be able to remember Evan and it was a really fun day and went really well," he said.

"I try to see Louise and baby Rioghnach-Ann once a week. There's a bond there and I hope it stays for the rest of my life.

"I have accepted that my life is never going to be the same again, but I'm learning to deal with it."

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