Glasgow bin lorry crew tell of bid to rouse driver

The scene of tragedy after the bin lorry crashed in George Square. Picture: Robert Perry
The scene of tragedy after the bin lorry crashed in George Square. Picture: Robert Perry
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WORKERS on board the Glasgow bin lorry that killed six people in George Square in December have told of their frantic attempts to prevent the tragedy.

The two men said they tried to rouse stricken bin lorry driver Harry Clarke when he collapsed at the wheel.

They shook the 58-year-old – who has since been diagnosed with a heart condition – and shouted to him that he was killing people.

But they were trapped behind a metal safety rail at the back of the cab and were unable to bring the vehicle to a halt as it careered along Queen Street packed with Christmas shoppers.

One worker suffered facial injuries and a second hurt his hip as they tried to wake Mr Clarke.


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It has also been revealed onboard monitoring equipment showed the lorry was travelling at just 20mph for roughly 40 seconds during the tragedy. An air-brake was fitted within the cab which slowly reduces speed, but neither of the two crew were trained in how drive the bin lorry and did not know how to use it.

Erin McQuade, 18, and grandparents Lorraine Sweeney, 69, and Jack Sweeney, 68, all from Dumbarton, Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh, and Stephenie Tait, 29, and Jacqueline Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, died on December 22.

According to the two crew members, who asked not to be identified, they first realised something was wrong after they had stopped to make the penultimate pick-up of their round outside the Primark store in Queen Street. As the vehicle set off again, it swerved and then proceeded on its fatal journey, about 400 metres towards George Square.

Following the incident, a blood sample is understood to have been taken from Mr Clarke who tested negative for drink-driving.

A police report has been passed to the procurator-fiscal. It will decide whether or not a fatal accident inquiry will take place into the circumstances. The GMB Union which represents the two crew members said it would welcome an inquiry which could help prevent future tragedies.

Cal Waterson, regional organiser of GMB Scotland, said: “I wouldn’t like to speculate at the moment because we’re still waiting for the police report to be published but, obviously, there was pressure being put on the accelerator.

“How would the crew have been expected to prevent that? That’s something that I hope a fatal accident inquiry would look into and be able to come up with some recommendations whereby we can put in some overriding device in the rear of the cab or something similar.”

Mr Clarke was routinely required to record his driving hours, and whether he followed procedure on the day of the crash will be examined by Scotland’s Crown Office.

He has since said he has no recollection of the crash: “I just want all of the families of the injured and deceased to know I can’t remember anything.”