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Police chief in apology over crash

Published 10/07/2015

An investigation has been launched into the police failure to follow up a report of the crash which killed John Yuill, 28, and left 25-year-old Lamara Bell critically injured in hospital
An investigation has been launched into the police failure to follow up a report of the crash which killed John Yuill, 28, and left 25-year-old Lamara Bell critically injured in hospital

Scotland's police chief has apologised to the families of a couple who lay for three days in a crashed car despite the accident being reported days earlier.

Lamara Bell, 25, was seriously injured and her boyfriend, John Yuill, 28, died in the crash near Stirling, which was reported to police on Sunday but not followed up for three days.

Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House said today that he had apologised to both families.

In a statement, he said: "Firstly I want to apologise to the families of John Yuill and Lamara Bell and to the people of Scotland for this individual failure in our service. Everyone in Police Scotland feels this most profoundly."

Sir Stephen admitted police had "failed both families".

The statement continued: "I completely understand the level of concern being raised about the circumstances surrounding the handling of the incident of the crash near the M9 slip road at Bannockburn, and in particular, Police Scotland's response to information received.

"That we failed both families involved is without doubt.

"However, I want to make clear to members of the public, and all those who have rightly expressed concern, that the mistakes made in not responding to the call from a member of the public on Sunday July 5 arose because the information received was not entered on to our systems.

"We know that just prior to 11.30am on Sunday July 5 2015 a member of the public contacted Police Scotland via the 101 system to report that they could see a vehicle down an embankment near the M9 slip road at Bannockburn.

"All callers to 101 receive an electronic options menu. This call was answered within six seconds following that message by an experienced officer and the relevant details were given by the caller.

"For reasons yet to be established this call was not entered on to our police systems and not actioned out to operational teams in the Stirling area to respond and trace the vehicle."

The couple were reported missing after visiting Loch Earn, Stirlingshire, in a blue Renault Clio on Sunday.

Police Scotland said the car was found when officers were called to the M9 near Stirling yesterday following a report that a Renault Clio was off the road.

The police investigations and review commissioner (Pirc) has begun an independent investigation into the circumstances of the incident.

Sir Stephen continued: "Shortly before 10am on July 8 2015 a second call was made to Police Scotland via the 101 system. This call was answered, recorded and allocated to operational teams who located Mr Yuill and Ms Bell within their car.

"Police Scotland are legally constrained from giving any detail into an incident if it is referred to the Pirc, as this incident rightly was.

"As the public would expect, the police must remain independent of this investigation which will be carried out by the Pirc under the direction of the Crown.

"All further detail going forward will therefore be a matter for the Crown Office and the Pirc."

Ms Bell was taken to Glasgow's Queen Elizabeth University Hospital where her condition is described as ''very serious''. She is reportedly in a medically- induced coma.

Her mother Diane Bell, from Falkirk, said she does not yet know what the long term impact of the ordeal will be on her daughter, who has two children.

She told the Scottish Sun: ''She will be in hospital for a good few months. We don't know what she is going to be like.

''She's happy-go-lucky and has a great personality.''

Yesterday she spoke of her anger at the situation and said her daughter could have died.

Her father Andrew Bell pleaded with his daughter on Facebook to ''wake up''.

Last night, he wrote: ''Tonight sitting beside Lamara I started sing her favourite song from her childhood, Marti Pellow. I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes, love is all around me and so the feeling grows.

''I can't for the life of me finish it, I just want her to move her hand as I hold hers.

''Tonight I would give my life to hear her sing it once more.

''She is off the ventilator, so one piece of victory to her.''

Mr Bell also told reporters he unknowingly drove past the scene of the crash on Sunday.

Mr Yuill's father Gordon said yesterday: ''The family just want to be left in peace now to grieve.

''Our thoughts are also with Lamara's family at this time.''

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