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Water safety expert appeals to public to buy '€10 items for their car that can save a life'

These included a seatbelt cutters and a centre-punch which could easily break a car window.

Image: Niall Carson/PA

A WATER SAFETY expert has pleaded with people to buy inexpensive items which could save their lives if their cars become trapped under water.

Chief Executive Officer of Water Safety Ireland, John Leech, was speaking at the inquest into the loss of five lives in the Buncrana Pier tragedy.

Mr Leech, a naval officer for more than 20 years, gave a moving experience of how he has recovered many bodies in his career from both cars and fishing trawlers.

He showed those at the inquest at the Lake of Shadows Hotel of some items which could be used to help people get our of their cars if they ended up under water.

These included a seatbelt cutters and a centre-punch which could easily break a car window.

“These items are very inexpensive, I got some of them for as little as €10, and they can save a life,” he said.

He also gave a step-by-step guide of what is recommended to people who become trapped in their cars.

Surprisingly he first advised people not to use their phones to contact the emergency services.

Instead, people should free themselves from their seat belts, then break a window and allow children to escape the vehicle first before the adults.

He added “People have to remember that cars float for a long time in the water and people should get out as quickly as possible and then they can hang onto the cars.”

He also revealed he is currently in discussions with the Irish Coast Guard Service whereby they issue advice to people trapped in their cars in water.

If someone is trapped in their car and do contact the Coast Guard Service, they could be given this advice to acted upon immediately, he added.

“It is an issue in Ireland and we have people drowning every year,” he said.

He added how he also supported a new system called an Automatic Window Opening System which will see cars open their windows if it pitches to a certain level when in water.

Five members of the same family perished in the tragedy including Sean McGrotty, his sons Mark, 11, and eight-year-old Evan, his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels and her teenage daughter Jodie-Lee Tracey.

Read: First garda on scene at Buncrana pier tragedy says he got down on his knees to stop from slipping

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