Glasgow bin lorry crash: Worker recalls bid to wake driver

Edinburgh mother Gillian Ewing was killed. Picture: Police Scotland
Edinburgh mother Gillian Ewing was killed. Picture: Police Scotland
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A BIN man on a runaway lorry that careered along a packed street – leaving six people dead, including a mother from Edinburgh – shouted at the driver slumped at the wheel: “You’re killing people.”

Matthew Telford, 46, said he punched Harry Clarke to try to rouse him as he watched their truck veer out of control in Glasgow.

Mr Telford told a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into the crash three days before ­Christmas that he got no response from the driver and was not able to access the vehicle controls himself.

He said: “For a very brief moment I thought he was kidding on. He didn’t respond so I said, ‘Harry, what are you f****** doing?’.

“I suppose a bit of panic set in and I started screaming at him. I started punching him on the back.”

The refuse collector said the truck hit a bin on the pavement and his voice cracked as he said he thought the vehicle had struck three women to the side of the bin.

He said: “I started saying, ‘You’re killing people, Harry’.”

The six people who died in the tragedy were remembered in a minute’s silence at the opening of the inquiry yesterday at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

Sheriff John Beckett gave his condolences to relatives at the hearing and excused them from court when CCTV footage was shown of what one lawyer described as the “graphic and horrific” events of December 22.

The footage showed the bin lorry mount the busy pavement filled with shoppers and skim a wall before it returned to the road and collided with cars.

People who escaped the path of the truck could be seen rushing to help the injured.

Gillian Ewing, 52, from Mortonhall, was amongst those who were killed, alongside Erin McQuade, 18, and her grandparents Jack Sweeney, 68, and Lorraine Sweeney, 69, from Dumbarton.

Stephenie Tait, 29, and Jacqueline Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, were also killed as the lorry travelled out of control along Queen Street and towards George Square before crashing into the side of the Millennium Hotel.

The Crown Office ordered an FAI into the crash after prosecutors ruled there was no evidence to warrant criminal proceedings.

Asked by Solicitor General Lesley Thomson, who is leading the inquiry, if he felt there was anything he could have done to stop the tragedy, Mr Telford said: “I don’t think I could have done anything different but I suppose I’m always going to be asking myself that question.”

The inquiry, which is set to last six weeks, continues today.

newsen@edinburghnews.com