Glasgow Bin Lorry crash: City medic tells of chaos

AN off-duty surgeon desperately tried to save the dying victims of the Glasgow lorry crash after racing to the horrific scene while doing his Christmas shopping.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 24th December 2014, 9:06 am
The victims, from top left; Gillian Ewing, Stephanie Tait, John Sweeney, Lorraine Sweeney, and Erin McQuade. Pictures: PA
The victims, from top left; Gillian Ewing, Stephanie Tait, John Sweeney, Lorraine Sweeney, and Erin McQuade. Pictures: PA

Dr David Jack, who runs private clinics in Morningside, Glasgow, Linlithgow and West Calder, was just starting his shopping at 2.30pm on Monday when he heard screams and crashing noises as the out-of-control bin lorry careered into a wall, killing six people.

The Linlithgow-born cosmetic surgeon rushed to the scene to offer whatever assistance he could, and found the street littered with bodies.

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Dr David Jack

As he looked around in panic, he saw Christmas presents left strewn across the pavements.

Dr Jack said: “I was outside Jamie’s Italian restaurant on the square and I was just walking along when I heard all these piercing screams and commotion.

“It was just a scene of utter devastation.

“Nothing could have prepared anybody for what we saw there.”

Candle and floral tributes left near the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow. Picture: PA

As one of the first people on the scene, Dr Jack started trying to revive some of the casualties while waiting for paramedics to arrive.

“There were two people who I tried to resuscitate but their injuries were horrific and I knew that there was nothing to be done,” he said.

“There was one girl who had pretty serious injuries but we managed to get her on to a spinal board and the paramedics took her to hospital.

“I didn’t see anybody really with minor injuries, though obviously the shock of the whole scene makes you remember the most horrific parts.

“There was such a chaos in the street – there were hundreds of people around.

“It looked like a scene from a war zone. It was unbelievable.”

Dr Jack, a member of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, worked alongside another off-duty doctor and a nurse who co-ordinated their efforts with the paramedics when they arrived minutes later.

Passers-by stopped to help by attempting first aid on the victims.

Two women also stood in the street stopping 
traffic before the police got there, shielding the injured from oncoming cars. One of them was off-duty police sergeant Jo McPherson who had been on a shopping trip with her husband when she came across the accident.

Despite the carnage, Dr Jack said his first instinct was to push aside the shock and do what he could to help.

Dr Jack said: “I just went on to autopilot, as you just do your best to help with whatever expertise you have.

“My first instinct was to go and help, but I realised quite quickly that for a lot of them there was nothing I could do to save them.

“Even having come from a surgical background, nothing prepares you for seeing that level of carnage outside of the clinical setting of a hospital.”

He was full of praise for the emergency services, who he said quickly and efficiently took control of the situation.

At around 3.15pm bystanders were cleared from the street by police and Dr Jack spent some time comforting bereaved relatives in a nearby restaurant before leaving.

His voice catching in his throat, the 30-year-old said he would find it hard to wipe the terrible scenes of the dark day from his mind.

Dr Jack, who is heading home to Linlithgow today to spend Christmas with his 
parents, added: “It’s just awful. There are six families who will be totally devastated, if not many more, by these tragic events.”

Other stories of ordinary people committing acts of heroism have emerged since the tragic events on Monday. Student Nicole MacLachlan saved the life of her 17-year-old sister, Ashley, by pushing her out of the path of the speeding bin lorry as it spun out of control down Queen Street.

The 19-year-old then jumped to safety herself – missing the vehicle by mere seconds before it slammed into the wall.

Ten people were injured in the crash, with six people, including the driver of the bin lorry, still being treated in Glasgow hospitals.

It has been suggested that the driver might have fallen ill at the wheel as he travelled up Queen Street before his vehicle hit a pedestrian outside the Gallery of Modern Art.

The bin lorry careered onwards, striking a number of other pedestrians before it crashed into the side of the Millennium Hotel in George Square.

Chief Superintendent Andy Bates said: “This is a tragic incident which occurred in the heart of Glasgow city centre at a time when people were preparing for the festive season.

“My thoughts are with the family and friends of those involved.

“My officers will continue to work with partner agencies to investigate the cause of the incident. I’m also aware that some members of the public may have video or images of the incident and it would be helpful if they could send them to [email protected]

Flags at the City Chambers and other council venues across the Capital flew at half mast yesterday to show solidarity with Glasgow.

Lord Provost Donald 
Wilson has written to his Glasgow counterpart Sadie Docherty to offer condolences and support from the people of Edinburgh.

He said: “Like most people across Scotland, I was shocked to learn of the tragic events in Glasgow.

“On behalf of the people of Edinburgh, I would like to express our deepest condolences to the people of Glasgow and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of those involved.”

Monday’s tragedy struck just over 12 months after the Clutha helicopter crash in Glasgow, which claimed the lives of ten people when a police helicopter crashed on to the roof of a crowded pub last November.

The Rev Alastair Duncan, who led a prayer service at St George’s Tron Parish Church in Glasgow yesterday morning, said afterwards: “There were tears and there were people who were just feeling the sense of loss and suffering that other people are going through.

“It’s difficult. It is close to Christmas and Christmas 
will go on for people, they 
will celebrate with their families.

“But I imagine that will be tempered by the knowledge that for some families not just this Christmas but many Christmases to come will never be the same again.”

Thousands flocked to George Square to lay candles, cuddly toys, flowers and cards, which were later moved by police and firefighters to a site outside the Gallery of Modern Art.

The chaplain to Scotland’s police force, the Reverend Neil Galbraith, said emergency workers at the scene had been struggling to cope with the enormity of what they were facing.

Outpouring of support for fund

A FUND for the victims of the George Square crash opened today – with £60,000 already donated.

Lord Provost Sadie Docherty, who announced donations of £20,000 from her provost’s goodwill fund to match ones from Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government, said there had been “tremendous” offers of support in the aftermath of the crash, with huge numbers of people getting in touch to offer help. The funds will be used to offer support to victims and their loved ones.

Six people involved in the incident, including the driver of the bin lorry, are still being treated in Glasgow hospitals, where one remains in a critical condition

George Square was yesterday reopened to pedestrians and traffic as investigations continue into the cause of the crash, in which the driver is thought to have suffered a heart attack or another medical emergency.

Glasgow’s Christmas lights, turned off as a mark of respect to the victims, were expected to be switched back on today.