Glasgow bin lorry crash: Tributes paid to 6 dead

Victims Lorraine Sweeney with her grand-daughter Erin McQuade
Victims Lorraine Sweeney with her grand-daughter Erin McQuade
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TRIBUTES have been paid to the six victims, including three from the same family, who were killed when a bin lorry lost control in Glasgow city centre.

Grandparents 68-year-old Jack and 69-year-old Lorraine Sweeney and their granddaughter Erin McQuade, 18, all from Dumbarton, were among those who died when the vehicle careered into the path of pedestrians in Queen Street and George Square on Monday afternoon. The other victims were named as primary school teacher Stephenie Tait, 29, Jacqueline Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, and Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh. The Glasgow City Council refuse truck had travelled at speed along Queen Street, mounting the pavement, knocking down Christmas shoppers and hitting cars, before it crashed into the Millennium Hotel next to Queen Street station on the corner of a packed George Square.

Jack Sweeney died along with his wife and grand-daughter

Jack Sweeney died along with his wife and grand-daughter

As the names of the victims were released, the Queen sent a message of condolence to the city in which she said: “Our thoughts and prayers go to the families of those who have lost loved ones and to those who have been injured.

“This sad event is made even more difficult as it comes at Christmas time. I send my condolences to all the people of Glasgow.”

Visiting the accident site yesterday morning, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that Glasgow was a “broken-hearted city”.

Relatives of the Sweeneys and Ms McQuade, who were said to have been Christmas shopping, expressed grief at their deaths.

John Sweeney wrote on Facebook: “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 FC supporters’ club.

A spokesman for the Bramalea Celtic club spoke of members’ “shock and sadness”, adding: “Thoughts and prayers go to the Sweeney family.”

Celtic FC said it would hold a minute’s silence in memory of the dead before Saturday’s home game against Ross County.

Ms McQuade was a student at Glasgow University and worked at Cameron House Hotel, on the banks of Loch Lomond.

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The hotel said: “Cameron House Hotel and Resort are saddened to hear we have lost one of our brightest and dedicated members of staff, Erin McQuade.

“We want to offer our deepest condolences and sympathies to the family of Erin and to all those who have been affected by the tragic events at George Square yesterday.”

Professor Anton Muscatelli, Glasgow University’s principal and vice-chancellor, said: “The university is deeply saddened to hear that one of our students has been tragically killed in this terrible incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with Erin McQuade’s family at this dreadfully sad time.”

Tributes were also paid to Ms Tait, who was a P7 teacher at St Philomena’s Primary in Provanmill.

Headteacher Catherine Gallagher said: “The entire school community is deeply saddened by this tragic news.

“Stephenie was an excellent young teacher, dedicated to the children. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends at this time.”

Of the ten people injured, police said that four had been discharged and six were last night receiving treatment for their injuries, including the driver, who witnesses said had been slumped over the wheel of the bin lorry.

Of the six still in hospital, two were expected to be discharged last night, another was said to be in “a critical condition”, one was serious but stable and two were stable.

At a prayer service held yesterday morning at the nearby St George’s Tron Parish Church, the Rev Stuart Smith, moderator of Glasgow Presbytery of the Church of Scotland, said: “In just a few minutes yesterday, a scene of celebration and festive lights in George Square turned to devastation and despair.”

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia will lead a Mass in the city’s St Andrew’s Cathedral at 1pm today for all those affected by the incident.

There are also plans for a candlelit vigil in George Square at 2pm on Sunday.

The Christmas lights in George Square, left on initially to help illuminate the crash site for emergency workers, were switched off yesterday as a mark of respect, while flags on public buildings in the city were flown at half-mast.

A fleet of private ambulances carrying the dead had left the area earlier in the morning. The lorry was also removed during the day.

Council staff worked throughout the day to repair damage to Queen Street, as well as replacing street bins and repairing a set of traffic lights.

By 3pm, the square and surrounding roads were re-opened to the public. The Christmas lights will be switched back on today but attractions such as the big wheel and ice rink will remain closed until Boxing Day.

The council opened a book of condolence at the City Chambers, near to where the crash happened, and also launched an appeal fund for people who were affected by the incident, to which the Scottish Government and the local authority donated £20,000 each, with a further £20,000 from the Lord Provost’s Goodwill Fund.

Throughout the day, people laid floral tributes, cards and soft toys next to the Gallery of Modern Art, close to where the first victim was struck.

Among the notes left with flowers expressing grief and condolences, one asked simply: “Why?”

The accident comes just over a year after a police helicopter crashed into the Clutha Bar in the city’s east end, killing ten people.

Ms Sturgeon said the city had been left with a “broken heart” after the crash.

She said: “2014 has been an incredible year for this incredible city, the Commonwealth Games were such outstanding success, but it has been a year book-ended by two unimaginable tragedies: Clutha at the end of last year and now this awful tragedy that unfolded yesterday.

“But Glasgow is a resilient city; we saw last year, and we saw again, in the past 24 hours, the incredible spirit of the people of Glasgow, and this city will pull together to support those who have been affected, not just in the days ahead but in the weeks and months to come, and again we just reminded today of that spirit of Glasgow.”

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