The Derry man, who was just 19 at the time of the tragic accident, lost his mother Ruth Daniels (57), sister Jodie Lee (14), nephews Mark (12) and Evan (8) McGrotty, and their father Sean (46), when their SUV sank after sliding off a slipway at Buncrana in March 2016.
The only survivor was Mr Daniels’ four-month-old god-daughter Rionaghac-Ann.
Speaking on BBC Radio Foyle Nr Daniels looked back on the night of the tragedy and explained that he had returned home from Letterkenny after playing a reserve game for his old fornmer Derry City.
“We were watching the TV in her house and we just seen that the media was putting up that there was an accident,” said the 23-year-old.
“My sister rang me about five minutes after I started making conclusions of sorts.
“My sister was in Liverpool and she hadn’t a clue. It was just a wee bit weird that she rang me and said ‘there’s something wrong’.
“I went home and rang the police myself and gave all the details.”
Knowing that his family was involved in the tragedy that occurred in Buncrana, Mr Daniels said he went into “survivor mode” to make sure his god-daughter was safe.
He admitted that he has used the unimaginable loss as a tool to move forward with his life and the father-of-one is due to get married this year.
“I wouldn’t say it’s got easier and it never will,” he continued. “Time will tell but they’re in my thoughts everyday and I use it positively.”
Praising football and his home town club Derry City as one of the main reasons he got through his grief, Mr Daniels added that it kept “his head down” and allowed him to focus on something other than the tragedy.
After signing for the Lurgan Blues in August 2017, the talented footballer’s performances have attracted interested from clubs on both sides of the border and across the water.
“I went there [Glenavon] to play minutes and getting out of the public eye here [Derry] helped at that time but even if that [the Buncrana pier tragedy] didn’t happen I probably would have made the same move,” he stated.
“Stepping away from my home town and going away and playing [helped me mature]. I’ve a family, I’ve a daughter, I’m going to get married.
“I think I’ve matured massively and maybe not by my own doing but it had to be done.”
As he looks forward to the future, the Irish League player hopes that hopesthe next step in his career will see him achieve his dream of playing full-time football.Tags: