DCSIMG

Glasgow Clutha helicopter crash claims 10th victim

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  • by RORY REYNOLDS
 

THE Clutha helicopter tragedy claimed its tenth victim yesterday, when a 59-year-old man died after 13 days in Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

Joe Cusker, from Cambuslang, had been receiving treatment since the tragedy on 29 November.

Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick said: “It is with great sadness that I can confirm the number of people who died when the helicopter came down on the Clutha Vaults pub has increased to ten.

“Our thoughts are with the families at this difficult time and we will continue to provide support to them, as we have done for all of the bereaved.”

Five people are still being treated for serious injuries, including bone fractures, lacerations and spinal, chest and head injuries. Two are in the infirmary and three in the Southern General’s Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Injury Unit.

Colleagues paid tribute to Mr Cusker, who worked as a volunteer for the Rutherglen and Cambuslang Housing Association for ten years. Dave Anderson, 58, one of its directors, said: “He will be very badly missed by everyone on the team. He volunteered for the association after retiring from his job in housing with South Lanarkshire Council about ten years ago.

“When it came to work, he was professional and quite serious. He was a very valuable member of the team. He used his considerable experience to help find housing for people in need.

“But he was good fun, too, and very personable. He loved his music, especially folk, and he liked going to see live bands, which was why he was in the Clutha that night.”

Fellow director Geraldine Baird said: “Joe was a very, very good man, a good person to know. We are all devastated. I can’t think how the family are feeling.”

Mr Cusker is the seventh person who was inside the bar to have died. The three people travelling in the helicopter as it returned from an operation in Dalkeith, Midlothian, also died.

It has not yet been established what caused the helicopter to fall from the sky, although investigators say initial evidence has ruled out engine or gearbox failure. An interim report by the Air Accident Investigation Branch found there was still fuel on board when it crashed, but the rotors were not turning.

Eight funerals have been held, so far with a ninth planned for today. News of the latest death came shortly after the funerals of two victims, the youngest and oldest, were held.

Friends and family gathered to remember Colin Gibson, 33, and Robert Jenkins, 61, who were customers in the bar when the police helicopter crashed through the roof.

Mourners gathered at Neilston Parish Church in Renfrewshire to remember Mr Gibson, who died as he celebrated a friend’s birthday in the Clutha.

His family bowed their heads silently as they were led into the funeral by the Rev Fiona Maxwell, who conducted the hour-long service.

The church, which holds up to 500 people, was full as mourners said a final farewell to Mr Gibson, who lived with his partner, David Hay, in Ayr.

Finance secretary John Swinney, Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson and the city’s Lord Provost Sadie Docherty were at the service, along with Clutha owner Alan Crossan and manager Saverio Petri, 48, who was injured. Senior police officers were also there.

Mr Hay, 33, read a personal tribute during the service and Mr Gibson’s sister, Diane Christensen, recounted the story of her brother’s life.

A collection of photographs of Mr Gibson, including some of his baby pictures, was printed on the order of service.

The Thornliebank Accordion Band played as the congregation spilled out on to the street to watch the hearse pull away.

A large bouquet of white flowers and single red and white roses lay on the coffin, which was taken to Woodside Crematorium in Paisley.

In a statement ahead of the funeral, his relatives said: “As Colin’s family, we would like to take this opportunity to express our thanks to the emergency services who attended the scene of the tragic accident.

“We also thank the members of the public who instinctively disregarded their own safety to help others. We appreciate the painstaking challenge faced by the rescue workers who worked tirelessly in these very difficult and harrowing circumstances. We greatly appreciate the support and guidance provided to us at this distressing time by the police liaison officers.

“Our thoughts are with those other families also affected by this unfortunate event.”

The funeral for Mr Jenkins, took place later at Linn Crematorium in Glasgow.

He had been listening to the band in the Clutha with his partner, Mary Kavanagh, when the helicopter hit the building. She escaped the bar unharmed and was restrained from going back in to find Mr Jenkins, known to friends as Rab.

The retired Scottish Gas administration worker had two daughters, Claire, 32, and Elaine, 31, with his wife of more than 30 years, Margaret Jenkins, a schoolteacher who died in 2006.

He was a keen runner, passionate about music, literature and film, and had appeared as an extra in several shows.

His friend Jim Doyle wrote in an obituary: “One thing that keeps me going through this whole thing is that I know he died with a pint in his hand and listening to music. If he could have selected a way to go, this would have been exactly what he would have chosen.”

In a statement, his family described him as a gentleman and an “especially kind, warm and funny man” with many friends.

Mr Jenkins was remembered at a humanist service led by Ken Eadie which celebrated his love of music.

Mourners heard tributes from friends Tony Darroch and Davy Welsh. Mr Crossan and Mr Petri also attended.

Ms Kavanagh, whom he met about four years ago, read a poem about courage during the ceremony.

Mr Eadie spoke of his family life, while Mr Darroch and Mr Welsh shared some of the times they had enjoyed together.

THE DEAD

Gary Arthur, 48, from Paisley, the father of Celtic and Scotland women’s under-19s footballer Chloe.

Captain David Traill, 51, from Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire, a former RAF pilot and instructor.

PC Kirsty Nelis, 36, from Inverkip, Renfrewshire, below, who was commended after overpowering an thug armed with a hammer in 2003.

PC Tony Collins, 43, originally from Plymouth, had also been honoured for his bravery.

Samuel McGhee, 56, from Glasgow, was the second of the victims to be identified.

Colin Gibson, 33, from Ayr, was on a night out with colleagues when he was caught in the roof collapse.

Robert Jenkins, 61, from East Kilbride, was a career-long Scottish Gas employee.

John McGarrigle, 57, from Cumbernauld, wrote poetry about Glasgow and its working classes.

Mark O’Prey, 44, from East Kilbride, was a window cleaner, said by friends to be a “generous, helpful, charming and loveable big bloke”.

Joe Cusker, 59, from Cambuslang, was a former South Lanarkshire Council worker.

SEE ALSO

Bond helicopters returning to service across UK

 
 
 

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