Stonehaven train derailment: Tributes paid to three victims

Brett McCullough, Donald Dinnie and Chris Stuchbury Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Family tributes have been paid to Brett McCullough, Donald Dinnie and Chris Stuchbury

The families of three men killed in a train derailment in Aberdeenshire have told of their devastation at their deaths.

Train driver Brett McCullough, conductor Donald Dinnie and a passenger now named as Christopher Stuchbury, 62, died in the incident near Stonehaven.

A major investigation has begun into the derailment, believed to have been caused by a landslip after heavy rain.

Mr Stuchbury, from Aberdeen, worked for a marine services firm in the city.

In a statement his family said: “Chris was a much adored husband, son, dad, stepdad, grandad, brother and uncle and was a treasured and loved friend to many.”

Mr Stuchbury worked for Targe Towing and volunteered at Roxburghe House hospice in Aberdeen in his spare time.

Earlier, the family of Mr McCullough described how his death had left a “huge void” in their lives.

His wife Stephanie said: “Words cannot describe the utterly devastating effect of Brett’s death on his family and friends.

“We have lost a wonderful husband, father and son in the most awful of circumstances.

“Brett was the most decent and loving human being we have ever known and his passing leaves a huge void in all our lives.

“We would like to thank the emergency services for their heroic efforts in helping everyone affected by this tragedy and for all the messages of support and condolence we have received.”

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Investigation work continues at the scene of the derailment

The 45-year-old father-of-three was originally from Bromley in Kent. He worked out of the Aberdeen rail depot and lived near the scene of the derailment.

The third victim was 58-year-old conductor Donald Dinnie, whose family said they were devastated by the loss of a “loving and proud dad, son, partner, brother, uncle and friend”.

“No words could ever describe how much he will be missed by us all and there will always be a missing piece in our hearts,” they said in a statement.

“It is so heart warming to see how many people have fond memories of Donald and I am sure they have plenty of happy and funny stories to tell. He was a kind, caring and genuine person who was never found without a smile on his face. We know he will be deeply missed by all.”

Mr Dinnie had also worked as a driver and guard during his railway career.

It is thought that the 06:38 Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street service was derailed by a landslide after heavy rain in the area. The alarm was raised at about 09:40 on Wednesday morning.

Six others who were on the train were taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. NHS Grampian said four of them had been discharged, while the other two patients were in a stable condition.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption A section of the train fell down a steep embankment
Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Emergency services remained at the scene of the accident on Thursday

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the “hearts of a nation” were with those affected.

Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson, UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps and Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines all visited the site of the crash on Thursday.

Mr Shapps has asked Network Rail to produce an interim report by 1 September on the “wider issues” that may have led to the derailment.

He said he wanted to see resilience checks carried out in “the next few days, few hours”, given the concern about flash floods in the area.

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Media captionGrant Shapps: Stonehaven derailment site is “completely harrowing”

“We absolutely need to make sure it doesn’t happen again and that’s why I’ve asked Network Rail to deliver that report to me so quickly,” he said.

He also said he spoke with PC Liam Mercer, the first officer on the scene, and commended him for his bravery.

Mr Matheson said he did not want to speculate about what had caused the incident.

“What I think we can assess, though, is that weather has had an impact,” he said.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Mr Matheson visited Aberdeenshire on Thursday morning

“We are seeing increasingly a higher level of what are localised intense weather events that are having an impact on the transport network, including the rail network.

“What we need to do as part of the investigation is identify to what extent it had an impact and also to see what lessons can be learned.”

He said some parts of the country had seen a month’s rainfall in just a couple of hours on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

He added that the derailment happened as the train driver was heading north, trying to return to Aberdeen, and that one crew member got out of the derailed train to prevent any other trains coming down the track.

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Media captionAerial footage shows the passenger train derailment in Aberdeenshire

Mr Haines said he did not want to pre-empt the outcome of the investigation.

But he added: “It is clear the weather was appalling and there were floods and landslips in the area.

“Our climate is changing and it is increasingly challenging the performance and reliability of the railway, but incidents like yesterday’s devastating accident are incredibly rare, and our railway remains the safest major railway in Europe.

“Yesterday was a tragedy, a truly horrific event, and my thoughts remain with everyone affected. Understanding what happened is the key to making sure it never occurs again.”

Network Rail said it would carry out detailed inspections of high-risk trackside slopes with similar characteristics to the site of the Aberdeenshire crash.

Dozens of sites across Britain will be assessed using in-house engineers, specialist contractors and helicopter surveys.

Scotland’s Lord Advocate has asked Police Scotland, British Transport Police and the Office of Rail and Road, the independent regulator, to conduct a joint investigation into the accident.

It will be carried out under the direction of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, and will run in parallel to the independent safety investigation being carried out by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch.

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