Last victim of Clutha crash is laid to rest

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More than 200 mourners have gathered for the funeral of the tenth victim of the Clutha helicopter crash.

Joe Cusker, 59, was inside the Glasgow pub when a police helicopter crashed through the roof on 29 November.

Glasgow Provost Sadie Docherty and council leader Gordon Matheson attend the funeral. Picture: PA

Glasgow Provost Sadie Docherty and council leader Gordon Matheson attend the funeral. Picture: PA

Mr Cusker, of Cambuslang, near Glasgow, was pulled from the wreckage alive but died in hospital from his injuries almost two weeks later.

Mourners gathered for his funeral service at South Lanarkshire Crematorium in Blantyre yesterday. Police outriders accompanied the hearse as it arrived for the humanist service.

The coffin was draped with a red socialist flag and a single white rose had been placed on top.

Scottish community safety minister Roseanna Cunningham attended the service along with senior police officers, Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson and Lord Provost Sadie Docherty.

Mr Cusker’s family have described their devastation over his death.

In a statement released before the funeral, they said: “When the accident happened, our family thought we were one of the lucky ones. Losing Joe 13 days later has left a huge gap in our lives which, at this moment, we can’t imagine beginning to fill.

“We are now left with the task of making sure his grandchildren grow up knowing who their ‘Papa Joe’ was, even if some of them are too young to remember him. The family would like to express their gratitude for all the support and good wishes they have received at this difficult time.

“We would also like to thank the emergency services, who gave Joe a fighting chance by removing him from the Clutha at risk to their own safety.”

Mr Cusker’s family said the “care, compassion and support” of staff in the intensive care unit at Glasgow Royal Infirmary had earned their “eternal gratitude and admiration”.

The statement said: “Although Joe had lived in South Lanarkshire for many years, he was a Glaswegian at heart, and he would have been proud at the courage and generosity that the people of Glasgow have shown in the midst of this tragedy.”

Funerals took place last week for the three helicopter crew who were killed – pilot David Traill, 51; PC Tony Collins, 43; and PC Kirsty Nelis, 36 – and the six other pub customers who lost their lives. They were John McGarrigle, 57; Mark O’Prey, 44; Gary Arthur, 48; Colin Gibson, 33; Robert Jenkins, 61; and Samuel McGhee, 56.

It has not yet been established what caused the helicopter to fall from the sky, although investigators say initial evidence rules out engine or gearbox failure.

Mr Cusker’s friend Iain Kelly paid tribute to him during the service, describing him as “Che Guevara Cusker”.

He said: “To do justice to the legend of Joe Cusker, I’d need many hours. Growing up, we all admired him with his made-to-measure shirts and suits and, as well as being very streetwise, he had a fierce intellect and phenomenal memory. He could recite facts on history, politics and current affairs, and needed little encouragement to share his knowledge.

“But if he was ever found wanting, he just made up a fact and argued it, or he stated he must be right because he’d heard it on Blue Peter.

“Joe would have been impressed and surprised by the turnout today because he never really appreciated the impact he had on others.”

A poem titled Remember Me was read during the service, and You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Dusty Springfield was played as mourners remembered Mr Cusker.

The family thanked everyone who had offered support to them over the last few weeks and also said a special thank-you to the police officer who pulled Mr Cusker from the rubble of the Clutha and “gave him a chance”.

Rather than flowers, the family asked for any donations to be made to Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Mr Cusker’s granddaughter was treated when she was ill.