An RNLI diver who was the first to reach a car in which five people drowned has told of how none of the doors on the Audi Q7 would open.
John O’Raw, an RNLI volunteers who has been snorkelling for 40 years, was giving evidence to the inquest into the deaths of the people at Buncrana Pier in March, 2016.
Mr O’Raw, a Computer Science Lecturer at LYIT, told how he tried to open the doors of the black Audi Q7 jeep after it had slipped off Buncrana Pier.
There was complete silence as Mr O’Raw told how he was the first to reach the ill-fated jeep which he estimated was three metres deep.
But he revealed “I was unable to open the doors. The door handles were giving freely but not engaging with the locking mechanism.”
Dressed in his diving gear, with a body weight and fins on his feet and using a snorkel, Mr O’Raw went about his investigation of the jeep.
Two other personnel were standing on the roof of the vehicle.
He said the tailgate of the vehicle was open and that the driver’s window was partially smashed and inverted inwards.
Mr O’Raw had earlier told how his RNLI pager went off at his home at 19.13pm.
He immediately rushed ot the pier and was met by colleague Emmet Johnston, bried on the situation and then he returned home ot get his snorkelling gear.
He entered the water at 19.55pm to carry out his investigation which was about 40 minutes after the car first became submerged.
When cross-examined, Mr O’Raw said he was aware of other situation on Buncrana Pier involving vehicles entering the water.
“I’m personally aware of 3 other incidents which have occurred there in past 17 years,” he said.
It was put to the RNLI rescuer that with the time-lapse, it was a recovery mission when he entered the water to investigate the vehicle.
He said “It’s a rescue mission until the doctor pronounces…we would always see it as an opportunity (to save someone).”
Coroner Dr Denis McCauley paid tribute on a personal level to Mr O’Raw for his actions on the day and to his colleagues also.Tags: