Bravery award for pier tragedy hero

Davitt Walsh receives his bravery award from Irish Transport Minister Shane Ross.
Davitt Walsh receives his bravery award from Irish Transport Minister Shane Ross.
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A man who rescued a Derry 
baby from a pier-side drowning tragedy that claimed five other lives has been awarded a gold medal for bravery at sea.

Five family members died in March when their car went off Buncrana pier in County Donegal and into Lough Swilly.

Davitt Walsh, who was on the pier, swam to the car from which the four-month-old child was handed to him.

Mr Walsh (30), from Kerrykeel, was awarded the Michael Heffernan Gold Medal for Marine Gallantry on Friday night.

Presented by Irish Transport Minister Shane Ross, the honour was in recognition of the County Donegal man’s “bravery at huge peril to his own safety to risk life, in an effort to save the life of a child”.

Those who lost their lives were Ruth Daniels (57), her daughter Jodie Lee Daniels (14), Sean McGrotty (49), and his sons Mark (12) and Evan (8).

They were the mother, sister, partner and two sons of Louise James, from Derry.

Mr Walsh, a former Irish League and League of Ireland footballer, managed to save baby Rionaghac-Ann.

Meanwhile, Louise James has been recognised for her fundraising efforts in honour of one of her sons.

At a young age, Evan had been diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and since the tragedy Louise has devoted her energies to raising money in his memory for the charity Muscular Dystrophy UK.

So far, Louise’s efforts have raised more than £15,000 for Muscular Dystrophy UK and helped the charity change the lives of young people like Evan.

She was nominated for and won the regional ITV Fundraiser award and now could go on to win the overall title.