Glasgow bin lorry crash: Six victims named

Emergency services at the scene where a bin lorry lost control. Picture: Robert Perry
Emergency services at the scene where a bin lorry lost control. Picture: Robert Perry
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POLICE have released the names of the six victims of yesterday’s bin lorry crash in Glasgow.

Elderly husband and wife Jack, 68 and 69-year-old Lorraine Sweeney and their granddaughter Erin McQuade, 18, died when the lorry driver appeared to lose control of the vehicle in Glasgow’s busy city centre district.

The other victims were named as Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh; 29-year-old teacher Stephenie Tait and 51-year-old Jacqueline Morton, both from Glasgow.

John Sweeney, a relative of Jack, Lorraine and Erin posted on Facebook that he was “feeling heartbroken” in the early hours of this morning.

He wrote: “No words can describe the pain. R.I.P. Jack, Lorraine and Erin. Thoughts and prayers go out to the other families that lost loved ones as well.”

The grandparents were reported to have had links to Ontario, Canada, where Mr Sweeney was once president of a Celtic supporters’ club.

Bramalea Celtic’s Facebook page paid tribute to the family in a post this morning, saying: “It is with great shock and sadness we share with you our friend and past president Jack Sweeney, his wife Lorraine and granddaughter Erin were victims of today’s tragedy in Glasgow.

“Our thoughts and prayers go to the family and friends of the Sweeney family.”

George Square is expected to be re-opened later today, police have said, as the investigation into an out-of-control bin lorry that killed six people in Glasgow’s city centre continued.

The names and ages of the fatalities are expected to be released later today, but police have confirmed that they include five females and one male. A further 10 were injured.

A large cordon remains in place at the square and dozens of floral tributes have been placed at the scene.

A fleet of private ambulances carrying the dead left the area earlier this morning.

The condition of the people who were hurt in yesterday afternoon’s crash was not known.

Last night, Police Scotland said in a statement: “As a result of the collision, six people died and 10 people were injured, including the driver.

“Seven casualties were taken to hospital by the ambulance service, two walked in to hospital and one was treated at the scene. Four have since been discharged.

“There are currently six people in hospital being treated for their injuries. Two have been moved to the Intensive Therapy Unit for further monitoring.

“The deceased includes one male and five females.”

As the investigation continued, a Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said there were two other crew members on the lorry at the time of the crash, but said the condition of the two men was not known.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Glasgow was a city with a “broken heart”.

She told BBC Radio Scotland: “As the city wakes up this morning, the sheer sense of horror and grief that happened yesterday will be very, very raw for people.

“Obviously all of our thoughts first and foremost are with those who waken up as bereaved families this morning. It is almost impossible to imagine what they are going through and I know that everyone across the city, across Scotland, across the UK will be thinking of them today.

“It was said after the Clutha incident last year, it’s been said many times since, but I think all of us watching the pictures on our televisions last night were again struck by just how readily people run into a scene of potential danger to help those injured and affected.

“There was a sense in the city last night of everybody rallying round.

“There is something quite incredible about the spirit in the city. Everybody knows it is a city with a big, big heart.

“This morning it’s a city with a broken heart but it will get through this as it got through the Clutha tragedy.”

Accompanying Ms Sturgeon at the crash site this morning was the leader of the city council, Gordon Matheson.

Expressing his and the city’s condolences, he said: “This is another terribly sad, heart-breaking day during what should be a joyful season. Everything that can be possibly done to offer support and care to those who have been most affected and the people of Glasgow will respond in the way that we always do. We respond to those who are in need with compassion and with generosity, and that will continue throughout this period and the many, many months ahead, during which those most affected by this tragedy will need it.”

He said that he was unable to comment on what caused the accident, but said that the families involved and the general public were “entitled to answers” as to why the council-owned vehicle crashed.

“They are entitled to full, accurate answers at the earliest opportunity, and that is a matter that is in the hands of Police Scotland at the moment. I’m very clear that all efforts are being made to get all of the details right, to get all of the circumstances understood and to get them made public at the earliest opportunity.”

Prayers were also said for the victims at a special church service this morning.

The Reverend Alastair Duncan led the service at the nearby St George’s Tron.

Driver ‘slumped’ at wheel

The vehicle first collided with a pedestrian outside the Gallery of Modern Art in Queen Street before it continued north, mounted the pavement and struck a number of other pedestrians, coming to a stop after hitting the wall of the Millennium Hotel next to Queen Street station.

Eyewitnesses described seeing the vehicle’s driver “slumped” at the wheel, leading to suggestions that he had been taken ill.

The tragedy comes just weeks after the first anniversary of the Clutha disaster, when ten people were killed after a police helicopter ploughed into the roof of a crowded bar.

Police last night confirmed that six people had died and insisted that the event was “not sinister”, saying they had ruled out any suggestion of terrorism.

Police are appealing to members of the public who have photographs, videos or any type of mobile footage of the incident to send it to a dedicated email address: georgesquareincident@scotland.pnn.police.uk

Meanwhile, Northumbria Police are investigating an offensive Twitter message relating to the incident.

Eyewitness reports

Eyewitnesses described seeing “bodies” strewn on the ground following the accident, which took place at around 2:30pm. David Lyon said: “I was quite literally walking across the road when I seen the garbage truck pretty much plough through people.

“There was debris getting thrown in the air and my first instinct was to get my girlfriend out of the way. It just happened so fast.”

The lorry was described as “smacking” into vehicles as it entered the square, sending debris flying across the road.

Another witness, Anjan Luthra, had been in the Greggs bakery on the corner of George Square when he heard “loud banging”.

“I initially thought it was the construction site that was collapsing because it was like a continuous racket,” he said. “Then I walked out of Greggs and just saw a lorry driving at a considerable pace right across the street and it was literally flattening people – a lot of people.

“I was watching it directly across, I was watching it going over the bodies. It was sheer chaos and panic and there was quite a lot of injured people and two people getting mouth to mouth right in the centre of the street.”

He said that during the “four or five minutes” it took the ambulance to arrive, members of the public began administering first aid to the injured.

Mr Luthra added: “Some bodies were untouchable and people were just covering them because they were in such a state.

“And in the midst of the chaos, delayed motorists were arriving on the square, sounding their horns, unaware of the horror which had unfolded ahead.

“No-one really knew what to do, so they were telling cars what had happened. It was just panic. It was taking all the signposts and traffic lights – it was taking everything with it.”

Another person described the aftermath of the incident as “a bloodbath”.

Melanie Gregg, who was in Queen Street at the time, said: “The bin lorry just lost control.

“It went along just knocking everyone like pinballs.

“There was a baby in a buggy and it just continued knocking people down until it actually ended up in the building. Quite horrific – very scary.”

Ms Gregg was too distressed to describe the scene of carnage left behind. “I can’t do that,” she said. “People were trying to run out of the way, but when something is coming up behind them like that, how can they run out of the way? It’s such a horrific thing, it’s just horrible.

“There was noise and bangs and screams and everything.”

George Leronymidis, who owns nearby Elias Greek restaurant on George Street, said he was alerted to the carnage minutes after it happened. “I walked out to see what happened and I saw the traffic lights on the corner of the square all knocked down,” he said.

“People were standing on the pavement where they told us that the driver was lying on the steering wheel so they assumed he had some kind of medical condition, like a heart attack or a stroke or something like that.”

Comedian Janey Godley, who was shopping in the area, said people were “getting CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) on the ground”.

“I think I was there just as the ambulances arrived, because there was Christmas shopping all over the street,” she said. “People were being worked on, people were fighting for their lives on the pavement as shoppers were standing.”

Ms Godley added: “It was the most horrible thing to watch all the ambulances and the people in the street, and yet the fairground in the background, and people just in shock.”

Glasgow City Council said it had considered switching off the Christmas lights in George Square as a mark of respect to victims of the tragedy, but police had asked them to leave them on to help their investigation.

As the evening wore on, police confirmed the investigation was now a “recovery operation” and was expected go on late into the night, as police and firefighters tried to establish the circumstances of the accident.

Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson of Police Scotland said: “Investigations continue into the circumstances of the tragic incident in George Square. While those investigations are continuing, we can, however, confirm that this is not a terrorism-related incident.”

Emergency vehicles left, revealing the final resting place of the lorry. A silver car was jammed under its wheels, showing signs of having been dragged along with it, its roof crushed.

There were tearful reunions between those who had been caught up in the accident and their families, as people began laying floral tributes at the cordon next to Queen Street station.

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