Bin Lorry Crash Took 19 Seconds

27 July 2015, 19:27 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

George Square bin lorry crash

Six people were killed in just 19 seconds when a bin lorry careered into them on a busy Glasgow street, an inquiry heard today.

The court was told this was the time it took from the vehicle losing control to it hitting the Millennium Hotel.

Mark Hill, from the Transport Research Laboratory, was giving evidence at the city's Sheriff Court.

He compiled a report on the crash which contained references to incidents where people in control of vehicles had fallen ill resulting in others taking action.

One such incident was a light aircraft where an untrained passenger managed to ground a plane with radio instructions.

Mr Hill said: "The difference the plane passenger had was thinking time. We are dealing with a constrained environment (with the lorry)."

The collisions expert added that successful passenger interventions were "rare".

Earlier the fatal accident inquiry heard the bin lorry's driver told an off-duty nurse that he did not feel unwell before the incident, an inquiry has heard.

Lauren Mykoliw said Harry Clarke asked if he had had a heart attack when she rushed to the scene to help out.

The 28-year-old said she was at the festive market in George Square three days before Christmas last year when she heard a loud bang.

She initially thought something had happened to the big wheel in the square before realising that the bin lorry had crashed.

She climbed into the vehicle and started speaking to driver Mr Clarke, who she said was conscious and still had his seatbelt on.

Ms Mykoliw said he told her that he could not remember what happened but also said he did not feel unwell or had not blacked out before the crash.

She told the inquiry: "I asked if he felt unwell before the crash and had blacked out. He answered no."

She added: "He said he remembered sitting at the traffic lights, then woke up where he was. He was pale and looked like he had a shock."

Paramedic Ronald Hewitson also treated Mr Clarke at the scene.

He took the driver's blood pressure, oxygen saturation and asked if he could do an ECG. He said Mr Clarke asked him if he had had a heart attack.

Mr Hewitson said: "I believe I explained that tests showed that he hadn't had one but that they would need to take blood at the hospital."

Erin McQuade, 18, and her grandparents Jack Sweeney, 68, and Lorraine Sweeney, 69, from Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, were struck and killed by the lorry.

Stephenie Tait, 29, and Jacqueline Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, and Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh, also died.

The FAI also heard from Robert Soutar, manager of the Anderston depot where Mr Clarke would pick up his crew each morning.

Questioned by Solicitor General Lesley Thomson, who is leading the inquiry, Mr Soutar said there was no specific training for crews in dealing with a driver falling ill.

"They would just do as anyone would and call for assistance," Mr Soutar said, adding that Matthew Telford, one of the crew on board the lorry, contacted a supervisor immediately after the crash.

Questioned about route risk assessments, Mr Soutar said special events in the city centre would be flagged up to crews and drivers but not seasonal events.

Mark Stewart QC, representing the Sweeney and McQuade families, then questioned Mr Soutar on risk assessments.

Mr Stewart asked why pedestrians were highlighted on the risk assessment forms but that there was no mention of the specific route taken by the lorry, only the stops where bins are collected.

Mr Stewart said: "What we have is a route risk assessment which details the risks to pedestrians of a stationary vehicle.

"There is nothing but complacency in relation to the lessons that may be learned from a proper risk assessment."

Peter Gray representing Glasgow City Council, also questioned Mr Soutar and established that there are various safety training courses for drivers with "dozens of control measures" in place to limit risks on routes.