THE driver of the bin lorry involved in a tragic accident which claimed the lives of six people has told of how he grieves for the victims and their families “every minute of every day”.
In an emotional interview, Harry Clarke said that “nothing will ever be normal” again for him or the relatives of those who died in the incident in Glasgow city centre.
The 58-year-old, who collapsed unconscious at the wheel of the vehicle, said he has “racked his brain” to try to remember the circumstances leading up to the tragedy, but cannot recall anything.
“I will never know what happened other than other people telling me what they saw,” he explained yesterday. “Every day is a struggle.”
Erin McQuade, 18, and her grandparents Jack Sweeney, 68, and his 69-year-old wife Lorraine, all from Dumbarton, died in the incident in Glasgow’s Queen Street and George Square on 22 December last year.
Primary school teacher Stephenie Tait, 29, and tax worker Jacqueline Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, and Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh, were also killed when the lorry mounted the pavement before crashing into the side of the Millennium Hotel in George Square.
In a statement issued to the Daily Record newspaper, Mr Clarke said he wanted to reach out to the families of those who died.
Mr Clarke is undergoing tests for a heart condition and said he had no problems with his health before the crash. “I never had anything wrong with my heart until that day,” he said. “I know going forward that won’t help the families, but I just want all the families of injured or deceased victims to know I can’t remember anything – I wish I could but I was unconscious.
“I have racked my brain to try to remember but I can’t. I will never know what happened other than other people telling me what they saw. Every day is a struggle. I think of everyone every minute of every day.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS
Before joining Glasgow City Council as a bin lorry driver, Mr Clarke worked for several years as a bus driver – a profession in which his HGV licence required regular and thorough medical examinations.
In the wake of the accident, family members of those killed said they did not attribute any blame to Mr Clarke, whose identity had not yet been revealed.
Marc Gardiner, the nephew of Mr and Mrs Sweeney, said he hoped the driver made “a speedy recovery” and “understands that it wasn’t his fault”.
In the statement – the first time he has spoken publicly about the tragedy – the driver thanked relatives and members of the public.
“I can’t really think how to express myself. I just want all the families and the public to know that I appreciate all the support they have given me through the newspapers and also the cards people have sent me,” he said.
“I’ve felt awful not speaking out before now but I was in hospital and my health hasn’t really improved much at all. I am not saying that to get sympathy, I don’t want that, but I don’t want the families to think I have been in hiding, I haven’t. I am just anxious that I don’t upset anyone.
“Now I feel a need to make a statement to ensure everyone knows I grieve for everyone involved in the accident.”
Mr Clarke, who is being supported by his daughter, Karen, 32, also said he was grateful to the press and broadcasters for not chasing him for his story in the aftermath of the accident.
He explained: “My daughter and I appreciate that the media have not hounded me as they could have. And while I am speaking out today, it is for all those affected and not about me.
“We all just want to grieve in private and hopefully everyone’s privacy can be maintained.”
All of those injured in the crash have now been discharged from hospital.
The Crown Office has received the initial police report on the incident and will decide if there will be any criminal proceedings or if a fatal accident inquiry will be held. A timescale for any further investigations will be outlined by the end of February.