Survivors and relatives share their memories of the night
Ten years ago, on 29 November 2013, a police helicopter crashed into the roof of The Clutha, a popular pub in Glasgow, killing 10 people and injuring 31 others. The tragedy shocked the city and the nation, and left many questions unanswered. Today, survivors and relatives of the victims shared their memories of the night and how they have coped with the aftermath.
John McGarrigle Jr, whose father John McGarrigle Sr was one of the six people killed in the pub, said he still struggles with the loss of his dad, who was a poet and a regular at The Clutha. He said he visits the pub every year on the anniversary to pay tribute to his father and the other victims. He also said he hopes to see justice for the families, who have been waiting for a fatal accident inquiry to be held.
Grace MacLean, who was in the pub with her friends when the helicopter crashed, said she remembers hearing a loud bang and seeing dust and debris falling from the ceiling. She said she was trapped under a table for about an hour before she was rescued by the firefighters. She said she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety after the incident, and had to undergo counselling and therapy. She said she is grateful for the support she received from her family, friends and the community.
Alan Crossan, the owner of The Clutha, said he was devastated by the crash and the loss of life. He said he reopened the pub in 2015 to honour the memory of the victims and to provide a place for people to heal. He said he has plans to demolish the current building and replace it with a new one, which will include a pub, a memorial garden and an arts venue. He said he wants to create a legacy for the people who died and the people who survived.
Investigation finds pilot error as the cause of the crash
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) published its report on the crash in 2015, concluding that the cause of the crash was fuel starvation due to incorrect operation of the fuel system. The report said that the pilot, David Traill, who was an experienced former RAF instructor, did not follow the standard procedures for low fuel warnings and did not land the helicopter as soon as possible. The report also said that there was no evidence of any technical fault or external factors that could have contributed to the crash.
The report was criticised by some of the families and survivors, who said it did not explain why the pilot acted the way he did and why the helicopter did not have a black box recorder. They also said they felt let down by the lack of accountability and transparency from the authorities and the helicopter operator, Bond Air Services. They have been campaigning for a fatal accident inquiry to be held, which was announced by the Crown Office in 2017, but has been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The inquiry is expected to start in January 2024.
Glasgow pays tribute to the victims and the heroes
On the tenth anniversary of the crash, Glasgow paid tribute to the victims and the heroes who helped in the rescue and recovery efforts. A service was held at Glasgow Cathedral, attended by hundreds of people, including the First Minister, the Lord Provost, the Chief Constable and the Archbishop of Glasgow. The service was led by the Rev Dr Laurence Whitley, who said that the tragedy brought out the best of Glasgow, as people showed compassion, courage and solidarity. He said that the victims will never be forgotten and that their deaths will inspire the city to become a better place for everyone.
A minute’s silence was observed at 22:25, the exact time of the crash, followed by the ringing of the cathedral bells. The names of the 10 people who died were read out, and candles were lit in their memory. The service also included prayers, readings, hymns and music by the Glasgow Philharmonic Male Voice Choir and the Glasgow Gaelic Musical Association.
After the service, people gathered outside The Clutha, where a plaque with the names of the victims was unveiled. Flowers, cards and messages were left at the site, and a piper played a lament. The pub also hosted a night of live music, featuring some of the bands that had performed there before and after the crash. The owner, Alan Crossan, said that the music was a way of celebrating the lives of the people who died and the spirit of The Clutha.