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Glasgow bin lorry driver not unwell before crash, inquiry hears

Published 27/07/2015

Driver Harry Clarke said he did not feel unwell before the bin lorry crash in Glasgow which killed six people
Driver Harry Clarke said he did not feel unwell before the bin lorry crash in Glasgow which killed six people

The driver of the bin lorry that crashed killing six people in Glasgow city centre did not feel unwell before the incident, an inquiry has heard.

Off-duty nurse Lauren Mykoliw was at the festive market in George Square when the tragedy occurred three days before Christmas last year.

The 28-year-old said she heard a loud bang and thought something had happened to the big wheel in the square before realising that the bin lorry had crashed.

She first helped a taxi driver before climbing into the bin lorry where she started speaking to driver Harry 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 blacked out before the crash.

Mr Clarke asked the off-duty nurse if he had a heart attack.

She told the fatal accident 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."

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 inquiry has also heard from paramedic Ronald Hewitson, who was one of the first people on the scene.

He said Mr Clarke was lying on the ground in front of the lorry by the time he arrived and he took the driver's blood pressure, oxygen saturation and asked if he could do an ECG.

He said: "From the checks we did there was nothing obvious. I asked him if he took any medication but I can't remember his answer."

Mr Hewitson, 52, said Mr Clarke told him the last thing he could remember was someone shaking him after the crash.

Mr Clarke also asked the paramedic 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."

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

He said he "knew the name" of Mr Clarke but did not know him personally.

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 pointed out that pedestrians are highlighted on the risk assessment forms but that there is 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."

The inquiry earlier heard from baker Andrew Wilson who saw a council bin lorry driver in an altercation with another driver earlier on the day of the Queen Street crash.

Mr Wilson told the inquiry he was on Cowcaddens Road when he saw a lorry driver sound his horn and gesticulate at another driver who had cut in front of him at about 1.30pm.

He said: "It just stuck in my mind. It seemed a bit aggressive for a public servant to be doing that to another citizen for what looked like an accident.

"It wasn't until I got home and saw the news (that he thought he should report it). I've no idea if it was the same bin lorry or not."

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