Glasgow helicopter crash victims include police officers and pilot

  • Fatalities included the entire crew – two police officers and a civilian pilot
  • One of those killed in the tragedy was named as PC Kirsty Nelis, who once received a police bravery award
  • The pilot was named as former RAF flight lieutenant David Traill, 51
  • Second constable named as Tony Collins, 43
  • Gary Arthur, 48, father of Celtic women's footballer was also identified as another victim from The Clutha pub
  • Pub-goers John McGarrigle and Mark O'Prey are missing and feared dead
  • 14 of those injured were being treated as 'serious' in hospital
  • Investigation into the crash likely to focus on a failure in the fuel supply
  • Doomed helicopter is being removed from the wreckage of the pub today and mission to retrieve bodies continues
  • Prayers said and candles lit for the victims at a service at Glasgow Cathedral today

By Ian Gallagher, Patricia Kane, Fiona Mcwhirter, Wills Robinson and Lucy Crossley

PUBLISHED: 17:15 EST, 30 November 2013 | UPDATED: 12:26 EST, 1 December 2013

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At least eight people died when a police helicopter fell out of the sky ‘like a stone’ and crashed through the roof of one of Glasgow’s best known pubs.

The fatalities included everyone in the aircraft – two police officers and a civilian pilot.

Both PCs Kirsty Nelis, and Tony Collins were members of the police helicopter unit and had previously been commended for acts of bravery, with Mrs Nelis receiving a bravery award after overpowering a hammer- wielding thug in 2003.

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Recovery: Emergency workers take out parts of the helicopter as they try and find those who are trapped

Recovery: Emergency workers take out parts of the helicopter as they try and find those who are trapped

Chaos: He said dust was billowing from the pub when he arrived and debris was strewn everywhere

Chaos: He said dust was billowing from the pub when he arrived and debris was strewn everywhere

Crash site: The helicopter's yellow-tipped rota blade blade and it's police logo can be seen jutting through the roof

Crash site: The helicopter's yellow-tipped rota blade blade and it's police logo can be seen jutting through the roof

The pilot of the helicopter was identified by police today as former RAF flight lieutenant David Traill.

Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House said: 'It is with great sadness that I can confirm that the crew of the helicopter involved in this incident have all died. They were constable Tony Collins, constable Kirsty Nelis and the pilot captain Dave Traill.

'Kirsty and Tony were members of the Police Scotland operations support division. They were part of the helicopter unit.

'Captain Dave Traill had worked with the police for over four years and was very much a part of our team.

'I'd like to pay tribute to all of them and the work that they did over the years keeping people safe across Scotland.

'Both the officers involved had previously been commended by the police by bravery in different acts.'

PC Collins was 43 years old, PC Nelis was 36 and captain Mr Traill was aged 51, police said.

Doting daughter: Celtic and Scotland women's footballer Chloe Arthur tweeted in memory of her father Gary, 48, who was killed in the tragedy

Doting daughter: Celtic and Scotland women's footballer Chloe Arthur tweeted in memory of her father Gary, 48, who was killed in the tragedy

In memory: Mr Arthur was a regular on the sidelines watching his daughter play at matches, and a minutes' silence was due to be held prior to today's Scottish Cup tie between Celtic and Hearts at Tynecastle today

In memory: Mr Arthur was a regular on the sidelines watching his daughter play at matches, and a minutes' silence was due to be held prior to today's Scottish Cup tie between Celtic and Hearts at Tynecastle today

Sir Stephen said: 'Since the tragic incident on Friday night it has been an extremely difficult time for all those affected. Our thoughts and condolences remain with the families and friends of the people who have died.

'I would like to repeat my thanks to all the emergency services and partners who continue to work at the scene in what is a complex and difficult operation.

'I would also like to thank the many people who have expressed their sympathies and support for us. Everyone has taken great comfort from these words at such a difficult time.'

Police also named Gary Arthur, 48, from Paisley,  as another casualty, after his body was recovered from the scene on the banks of the River Clyde. 

He was the father of Scotland international women's footballer Chloe Arthur, 18, who who took to Twitter to pledge that she would make her much-loved father proud. 

The under-19 forward for Celtic and Scotland tweeted: 'RIP dad. you'll always mean the world to me, I promise to do you proud, I love you with all my heart.

'thanks to everyone who has tweeted me, text me etc, means so much, I have the most amazing friends ever.'

Mr Arthur was a regular on the sidelines watching his daughter play at matches, according to Celtic women's manager David Haley.

'This is devastating for Chloe and her family,' he said.

'It is a tragedy that Chloe's father was one of eight innocent victims in this terrible accident - he was regularly seen at Celtic matches, watching his daughter.

'Chloe and her family have the full support of everyone at Celtic and across the women's game at this very sad time.'

A minute's silence will be held before Celtic's Scottish Cup tie against Hearts at Tynecastle today, while Celtic FC and the Scottish Football Association also sent their condolences.

Confirmed: Police today confirmed that Pc Tony Collins and pilot David Traill, who were on board the helicopter, died in the crash

Police and Scottish Fire and Rescue services at the scene of a helicopter crash at the Clutha Bar in Glasgow

Tragic: Kirsty Nelis was one of eight people who died as the helicopter she was in crashed into a Glasgow pub

Feared dead: Police officer Kirsty Nelis, left, was believed to have been on board the stricken chopper, while Sam McGhee was drinking with friends at the time of the crash and has not been seen since

Casualties: The pilot of the helicopter, David Traill, 51 (left) was identified by his family members last night and Pub-goer Gary Arthur, 48, was also confirmed by police as one of the victims

Missing: Mark O'Prey, 44 (left) is not accounted for and is believed to be among the dead while John McGarrigle was in the pub at the time of the crash

 

In a statement, Celtic said: 'Celtic Football Club would like to send our condolences to the families of all of those who tragically died in the terrible accident at The Clutha Bar in Glasgow on Friday night.

'Eight people lost their lives when a helicopter crashed into the pub, while many more people were injured. They're being treated in Glasgow hospitals.

'One of those who sadly passed away was Gary Arthur, the father of Chloe Arthur who plays for Celtic Women's first-team.

'The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Celtic, including all of Chloe's team-mates and friends at the club, are with Chloe and her family at this desperately sad time.

'Those thoughts and prayers are, of course, also with the families of all of the victims of this terrible tragedy.'

Feared dead: Police officer Kirsten Nelis received a bravery award in 2003

Feared dead: Police officer Kirsten Nelis received a bravery award in 2003

Service: One of the victims PC Kirsty Nelis (far right) in flight

Service: One of the victims PC Kirsty Nelis (far right) in flight

 

The Scottish FA tweeted: 'Our deepest condolences go out to @CelticFC & Scotland WU19 player Chloe Arthur and her family at this very sad time Clutha.'

Mark O'Prey, 44, and poet John McGarrigle have both been reported missing by friends and family and are also feared dead.

Victims of the Glasgow helicopter crash have been remembered at a service in the city's cathedral, as the rescue and recovery operation continues.

Special prayers were said and candles lit at Glasgow Cathedral, where Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon were among those attending, as will Sir Stephen and Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins.

Scotland's Chloe Arthur

Proud daughter: Footballer Chloe Arthur tweeted that she promised she would make her father Gary proud, after he died in the tragedy

Sunday school children lit eight candles in memory of the eight confirmed dead while Rev Dr Laurence Whitley led prayers.

He told the congregation that Glasgow was 'great and irrepressible' and had come together 'in solidarity' over the past two days.

Prayers were also said for the emergency service crews working to rescue and recover people from the building.

Both Ms Sturgeon and Mr MacAskill gave readings.

FROM PUB-GOERS TO POLICE OFFICERS: SOME OF THE VICTIMS OF THE GLASGOW HELICOPTER CRASH

John McGarrigle, 59, (missing, feared dead)

John McGarrigle with his father

Pub regular Mr McGarrigle was believed to have been sitting in his usual spot, directly beneath where the helicopter came through the ceiling. His son, also called John, said he is 'convinced' his father has been killed. The artist and poet also had two daughters, Marie and Linda, who are both in their 30s.

Mark O'Prey, 44, (missing, feared dead)

Missing: Mark O'Prey, 52, is believed to be among the dead

Mr O'Prey stayed inside the pub, minding his pint, while his friend Willie Bell went outside to get a cigarette - avoiding the carnage. His sister Louise believes he would have gone to help victims and become trapped.

Kirsty Nelis , 36, (confirmed dead)

Feared dead: Police officer Kirsten Nelis received a bravery award in 2003

PC Nelis was on board the doomed helicopter. In 2003 she received a bravery award after overpowering a hammer- wielding thug. She married husband Mark in October 2010. They lived in Inverkip, ­Renfrewshire, and had no children

Tony Collins, 43, (confirmed dead)

Police Scotland handout of PC Tony Collins who died when the Police helicopter

Pc Collins was also onboard the helicopter when it crashed as part of the police unit.

David Traill, 51, (confirmed dead)

The pilot of the helicopter, David Traill, 51, was identified by his family members last night

Mr Traill is thought to be the civilian pilot who was flying the helicopter. Family members have confirmed his death. Mr Traill was an accomplished Chinook pilot with more than 20 years experience who had been on tours of duty to Iraq and Afghanistan and served in both Gulf Wars. He lived in Lochwinnoch, ­Renfrewshire, with partner Lucy.

Gary Arthur, 48, (confirmed dead)

Pub-goer Gary Arthur, 48, was also confirmed as one of the victims by police

Mr Arthur, from Paisley, was the father of Scotland women's footballer Chloe Arthur and was a regular in the stands when his daughter was playing for Celtic. He was the first victim of the tragedy to be officially named by police.

Sam McGhee (missing, feared dead)

Sammy McGhee missing from the clutha helicopter crash in glasgow, presumed dead

Mr McGhee was drinking with Mr McGarrigle at the time of the crash. He has been missing since then and is feared to have been killed.

Rev Whitley spoke of his experiences visiting those injured by the incident in hospital on Saturday morning.

'All we found we could do was look at each other and shrug,' he said.

'What was there to say about that heart wrenching event that had happened?'

The Queen, Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister Alex Salmond have expressed their condolences to those caught up in the tragedy.

First Minister Alex Salmond said: ‘This is a black day for Glasgow and Scotland but it’s also St Andrew’s Day, and it’s a day we can take pride and courage in how we respond to adversity and tragedy.'

There was praise for the heroic rescue effort mounted by passers-by and those who escaped uninjured.

Mr Traill was hailed for the way he handled his aircraft as it fell,  possibly averting an even worse catastrophe.

His family told The Sunday Times that the accomplished Chinook pilot with more than 20 years experience 'always had time for everybody'.

The 51-year-old is said to have been on tours of duty to Iraq and Afghanistan and served in both Gulf Wars.

His death comes just two years after his younger brother Angus died from cancer.

Mr McGarrigle's son, also John, said his father was sat in his usual seat in the venue, which was directly below the point where the aircraft hit. His friend, Sammy McGhee, is also thought to have died, according to The Sun.

John Gardner, 60, who lives in the same block in East Kilbride as missing Mark O'Prey, said: 'I know lots of people Clutha and it is a shock to find out that some of them are gone.

'It's been a couple of weeks since I last saw Mark. He is intelligent, affirmative and really enjoyed his festivals. He is a big fellow and has a black belt in judo.

'He lives with his son Mark who is 15. There was no lights on last night, so the son must be staying with friends.

'Mark often goes camping in the summer and always takes his son with him everywhere.'

The operation to recover bodies from the Glasgow helicopter crash has moved into its third day and is 'likely to take some time,' Police Scotland said.

Police admitted last night that there might still be bodies inside the pub, called The Clutha, though they have ruled out finding any more survivors.

Emergency workers began to remove the helicopter from the roof of the pub today, and pulled a body from the building this morning.

'Police Scotland can confirm that just after 11 o'clock this morning the body of another person was removed from the incident site and has been taken to the Southern General Hospital, where the formal process of identification will continue,' said a spokesman.

'Work has begun today to remove the helicopter from the major incident site at the Clutha Vaults.

'This will be a painstaking process and is expected to take some time because of the need to ensure the safety of the operation and members of the emergency services and investigators.'

Five people inside the pub who had been listening to a live band were also among the dead. A total of 32 people were injured, 14 of them seriously – and 12 people were still being treated in hospitals across the city last night.

The spokesman added:The operation at the site is difficult and complex and great care and sensitivity is required in order to preserve the integrity of the site which is part of our investigation.'

Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick said: 'We are talking to witnesses and we would repeat our request for anyone who has information or footage of the incident to contact us by calling 101, so we can continue to build a picture of what happened on Friday night.

'We hope to make further formal identifications as the operation continues today. Our casualty bureau has already handled more than 600 calls and we are working hard to piece together information that will allow us to progress that.

'Clearly the processes involved take time. However there are formal identification procedures that have to take place before we can publicly confirm identities and it is essential to ensure accuracy, and maintain sensitivity and dignity for the families of the deceased.

'We have put in place measures to provide support to the families affected and would ask the media to demonstrate sensitivity for those concerned at this extremely difficult time.'

Mr Traill's cousin, Heather Lawson paid tribute to him on Facebook, writing, 'RIP David Trailly my lovely big cousin away far too soon.'

Aviation expert Struan Johnston said: ‘The pilot would have done everything in his power to try and land the aircraft safely,

‘Unfortunately, I think in this case he nearly pulled it off, but the weight of the aircraft just wasn’t sustainable on the roof.’ Experts believe the pilot would have still exerted some control over the helicopter even after its engine failed. And in aiming for the flat roof of the pub, which he may have mistaken for an empty building, he was choosing the least worst option.

He was too low to land on a nearby multi-storey car park, where he appears to have been heading, and there were too many obstacles to land in the river. And he would have also ruled out a landing on the road running alongside the pub as it was heavy with traffic.

The helicopter’s engine was heard to splutter and ‘backfire’ at just before 10.25pm on Friday. Then the rotor blades suddenly stopped turning and for ten terrifying seconds the helicopter simply fell silently out of the sky.

Witnesses feared it would explode in a fireball, but the impact sent up a plume of smoke and dust.

‘I think it will become apparent later that the brave pilot averted an even bigger tragedy,’ said Grace Maclean, a 22-year-old marketing assistant, who was in the bar but escaped uninjured.  

‘I believe there are many, many people who owe their lives to him – me included.’

She added: ‘I just feel numb. Looking at pictures of the scene, it just seems so surreal.

‘Obviously I am distraught that people have died at a place I went to for a fun night out. My thoughts are with their families. I was so lucky.

‘If that helicopter had landed a few feet the other way, or landed heavier and gone through the roof with its rotors spinning, or exploded – well, it doesn’t bear thinking about.’

The crash happened while local ska band Esperanza were playing in the pub, which stands on bank of the Clyde in the city centre and is named after the river’s Latin name.

At first, there was bemusement, and some even laughed as a panel fell down behind the stage. ‘Looks like we’re bringing the roof down,’ joked the singer as the band carried on playing.

Yet seconds later, as dust clouds swirled through the bar, it became abundantly clear that something horrifying had happened. Slowly at first, part of the roof began caving in. Then it gave way completely, trapping a number of people directly beneath it.

Prison officer Alleena Couple was in the pub with her husband Gary, a former firefighter, when the helicopter crashed through the roof.

Mrs Couple said she saw the roof collapse, before a dust cloud left the patrons struggling to see ot breathe.

She told the Daily Record she had managed to get out of the pub before ambulance crews arrived, and that as she was a first aid instructor, started trying to help people.

She said she saw people with head and face injuries, or broken limbs.

'There were people screaming. There were rows of injured people on the floor.'

Mrs couple said that she saw the fire brigade bringing out the body of one tragic pub-goer, who she described as being covered in dust and blood.

'They covered him in a blanket and put him in a bag. They did it with dignity for him.

'It was really hard to see. I can’t stop thinking about his poor family.

'I was in bits after that. I got home about 2.30am and didn’t sleep a wink.

'Every time I shut my eyes, I see that wee man.'

Robert Kennedy, whose daughter Anne Marie was working behind the bar at the time of the incident,  said she suffered a broken leg but was relieved she was alive.

Mr McGarrigle, 59, a regular, is thought to have died because he was sitting in his ‘favourite seat’ which was directly under the point where the helicopter struck the roof.

His son John spent half the night frantically trying to contact him until he finally became convinced he was dead and ‘probably lying underneath the helicopter’.

Mr McGarrigle, who was an artist and poet, also had two daughters Marie and Linda who are both in their 30s.

His son added: ‘He sat in the same spot all the time... a woman called Fiona said she walked into the toilet and, bang, the ’copter came in. When she came running out the door, my dad and Sammy [his friend] were gone.’

By this point, there was shouting and screaming and a thick cloud of black dust had swept over everyone inside. ‘I could barely see a few inches in front of me,’ said Ms Maclean.

‘I could feel hands grabbing me and people shouting: “Get out.”’

The helicopter had struck the roof at the back of the horseshoe-shaped bar, where older regulars normally gather.

Council worker William Byrne emerged from the toilet as the roof collapsed over the spot where he had been standing seconds earlier.

‘People were dancing and it had been a great night,’ said Mr Byrne, 45. ‘And then there was a really loud bang. I thought it was something to do with the band, as preposterous as that seems.

‘The gantry of the bar had fallen down at a 45-degree angle.

‘People were trapped underneath it so I helped to lift it off them and them out,’ he said.

‘I was amazed at the calmness,’ he admitted, adding: ‘Everybody was outside within five or six minutes.

'Apart from the people who were still trapped, the roof stopped me from getting to them.

'There was a general feeling of shock and numbness.

'The first person wedged under the bar was conscious and we helped him out but the second person was in a worse way, potentially unconscious.

'I feel like I dodged a bullet.’

Instinctively, those such as Mr Byrne who escaped uninjured, along with brave passers-by, formed a human chain to pull the wounded to safety.

One of those who joined the rescue effort was Labour MP Jim Murphy, who had been in a nearby pub.

Bleak scene: rescue workers haul tarpaulins over The Clutha pub's shattered roof, covering the carnage

Bleak scene: rescue workers haul tarpaulins over The Clutha pub's shattered roof, covering the carnage

Concerns: Firefighters looking over the wreckage in Glasgow. Emergency services said they feared more people were trapped inside

Concerns: Firefighters looking over the wreckage in Glasgow. Emergency services said they feared more people were trapped inside

'HE WAS IN THERE...I KNOW HE'S DEAD'

John McGarrigle with his father

Among the relatives desperately waiting at the scene for news was John McGarrigle, whose 59-year-old father was in the pub when the helicopter crashed.

Mr McGarrigle, 38, was distressed as he held up a mobile phone image of him with his father, also called John.

He said: ‘He was in there, and a ton of people have already told me that he was there. He is not answering his phone, he is not at his house, I know for a fact that he is dead, simple as. I just want to know where he is so I can go and ID him.’

He said: ‘It wasn’t a screaming, shouting match – and bear in mind that I ran over seconds after it happened, so people were coming out – and I think their reaction was “What’s happened?” because people didn’t seem to be in a state of complete panic.

‘Everybody was doing their best to try to get inside that pub and get people out of it.

‘I was very aware of how people were totally unconcerned about their own safety and just trying to get people out. I was right at the front door and initially there were a couple of people lying there and one lad who looked particularly badly injured; we got him out.

‘He was completely covered in dust and looked as though he was struggling to breathe. He was uncommunicative, so I established that he was breathing and he had a pulse and I got other people to help me to take him away from the front of the building, because at this point other people were being literally pulled out on top of us.’

Another witness in the pub, Fraser Gibson, 34, described hearing a ‘giant explosion’.

‘Part of the room was covered in dust,’ he recalled. ‘We didn’t know what had happened. We froze for a second, there was panic and then people tried to get out the door.

'I would say there were maybe 120 people inside the pub.

'A lot managed to get out straight away, but it was hard to tell how many were actually trapped in the other half of the bar.’

Another reveller in the bar, Åsa Gunnarsson, said: ‘I was standing in front of the stage when there was a loud bang – then I couldn’t see anything because of the dust.

‘Everyone tried to help each other and make sure that everyone got out.’

Esperanza bassist Jessica Combe told The Mail on Sunday yesterday: ‘Despite the situation everyone was so helpful and caring of each other.

‘The police, ambulances, firefighters all did a stellar job and continue to  do so today in extremely difficult  conditions.  

‘Our biggest concern is that everyone is found and can get the care and help they need. We were meant to play a gig tomorrow but due to last night’s events we will not be there.

'Our main concern is the safety of everyone who has not yet been rescued.’

For much of yesterday, it was unclear if anyone alive was still inside the building.

Chief Constable Sir Stephen House said: ‘We are still in what we are determining as a rescue and recovery situation. Until it [the helicopter] is out of the way, we won’t know everything that is going on underneath the helicopter.

'We simply can’t say what the situation is at this moment definitively.’

Reaction: Paul Watt, a regular at the Clutha pub, breaks down in tears as the police corden on Stockwell Street in Glasgow

Reaction: Paul Watt, a regular at the Clutha pub, breaks down in tears as the police corden on Stockwell Street in Glasgow

Response: Scottish Fire and Rescue firefighters and USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) teams use ropes to stabilise a ladder as they stand on the roof of the pub

Response: Scottish Fire and Rescue firefighters and USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) teams use ropes to stabilise a ladder as they stand on the roof of the pub

Boundary: An officer walks walks past the metal barrier which has been set up around the pub

Boundary: An officer walks walks past the metal barrier which has been set up around the pub

Concerned: Police officers speak to two women at a hotel adjacent to the pub

Concerned: Police officers speak to two women at a hotel adjacent to the pub

He said the biggest fear was the possibility of the aircraft exploding. ‘You’re thinking, “Will this explode?”

‘You need to get as many people out as quickly as possible before it explodes.’

Another at the forefront of the rescue was 57-year-old retired firefighter Edward Waltham, who was on his way to meet a friend in The Clutha, when the helicopter crashed, 50 yards from him.

Brave: Labour MP Jim Murphy rushed from a nearby hospital to rescue the wounded from the pub

Brave: Labour MP Jim Murphy rushed from a nearby hospital to rescue the wounded from the pub

Chief fire officer Alasdair Hay added: ‘This is a very challenging, very complex and very difficult  rescue situation.’

Prime Minister David Cameron  paid tribute to the bravery of the  ‘ordinary Glaswegians’ who rushed to help and the Queen said her thoughts and prayers were with the victims  of crash.

Yesterday an inquiry involving the Air Accidents Investigation Branch and the emergency services was launched.

Tribute: A police officer escorts a woman and a child after they left a bouquet of flowers near to the scene where the police helicopter crashed

Tribute: A police officer escorts a woman and a child after they left a bouquet of flowers near to the scene where the police helicopter crashed

The probe will focus on mechanical faults within the aircraft and a potential failure in the fuel supply.

There is a chance the fuel could have been contaminated while the engine could also have lost power.

It comes after witnesses described the engine 'spluttering' as it fell from the sky onto the roof of the pub.

Sources close to the investigation said the pilot was 'as experienced as you could possible get', according to The Sunday Times.

Perspective: An overview of the scene at The Clutha on the other side of the River Clyde

Perspective: An overview of the scene at The Clutha on the other side of the River Clyde

A large section of the city centre, which was thronged with Christmas shoppers yesterday, was cordoned off. The Archbishop of Glasgow, Philip Tartaglia, who held at special Mass at St Andrew’s Cathedral near the scene, said: ‘My heart goes out to all those who have been affected by this tragic accident.

‘Prayers will be offered for everyone, especially for those who have died, for the injured and for the bereaved . . . Saint Andrew, patron of Scotland, pray for us.’

It emerged yesterday that the model of helicopter which crashed – the Eurocopter EC135 – was grounded last year amid safety concerns after a fault was found with one of the  two aircraft used by the Scottish Ambulance Service. They were later cleared to fly.

Cover: Workers drag a tarpaulin sheet over the yellow-tipped rota blades of the crashed helicopter

Cover: Workers drag a tarpaulin sheet over the yellow-tipped rota blades of the crashed helicopter

By Staff 12/01/2013 05:26:00