Emergency services walk past a cordon off crashed bin lorry as they attend the scene in George Square. Photo / Getty Images
A crew member on a bin lorry that killed six Christmas shoppers
in Scotland punched the unconscious driver as it careered across a busy
square and screamed, “You’re killing people, Harry”, an inquiry has
Matthew Telford, 46, told a fatal accident inquiry (FAI)
there was panic inside the vehicle after the experienced driver, Harry
Clarke, collapsed at the wheel. He described his frantic attempts to
wake his colleague on a dramatic first day of the hearing, during which
graphic footage was shown to the court.
Relatives of those who
died listened to an account of the truck’s journey from Queen St to
George Square in the centre of Glasgow, where it came to rest when it
hit a hotel.
The relatives left the court while video was played showing victims being struck by the vehicle.
The court was also told of pedestrians fleeing its path
and a couple throwing a buggy containing their 3-year-old granddaughter
Telford, part of the three-man crew, said he had no training in what to do if someone fell ill at the wheel.
told Glasgow Sheriff Court that December 22 started as an ordinary day
with the crew in “quite a joyful mood” because of the time of year,
talking about Christmas and football.
They were chatting when he
felt the vehicle veer to the left and turned to 58-year-old Clarke and
shouted: “Harry, what are you ******* doing?” When there was no response
he screamed: “You’re killing people, Harry.”
He said the driver’s head was slumped to one side, and then his “whole body slumped to the left”.
Telford added that “a bit of panic set in” as he screamed at and punched the driver to get a response.
The witness struggled to continue with his evidence as he described the truck hitting pedestrians.
the vehicle stopped, he and his colleague Henry Toal got out and tried
to help Clarke, who was unconscious, groaning and “grey”. Five minutes
later the driver asked what had happened.
Asked if he could have
done anything to stop the truck, Telford said: “I don’t think I could
have done anything. Suppose I’m always going to be asking myself that
He added that he did not believe he could have reached the steering wheel or the brake without having to climb over the driver.
court heard there were unopened bottles of beer in the truck’s cab on
the day of the crash. But Telford said he has no knowledge of them, it
would be against council policy and no one had been drinking.
FAI, expected to last around six weeks, was ordered after prosecutors
said there was no evidence to warrant criminal proceedings.