Glasgow bin lorry crash 'could have been prevented' if driver told truth on medical forms

Six people, including an 18-year-old and two of her grandparents, were killed in the crash a few days before Christmas

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The Independent Online

The tragic bin lorry crash in Glasgow that killed six just days before Christmas could have been avoided if the driver told the truth about his previous blackouts in his job application to the city council.

Harry Clarke, the driver of the bin lorry, careered into a crowd of Christmas shoppers after witnesses reported that he appeared to lose consciousness at the wheel.

Last week, the inquiry heard that Mr Clarke had collapsed while driving a bus in a previous job in April 2010.

Now, the inquiry has heard that he had failed to disclose this incident during three medical assessments he underwent when applying for jobs at Glasgow City Council at later dates.

 

One of these assessments was a DVLA license check he took in 2011, which has to be completed by LGV drivers every five years once they turn 45.

On this form, next to the question: "Is there a history of blackout or impaired consciousness within the last five years?", the "No" box had been ticked.

Dr Joanna Willox, who completed the form with Mr Clarke, said that if she had known about the 2010 bus incident, she would have informed the DVLA and the council, making him 'temporarily unfit for duty'.

Dorothy Bain QC, who is representing the family of crash victim Jacqueline Morton, told witnesses in the inquiry that he had reported a faint or a blackout in 1989, had felt "dizzy behind the wheel" in 1994, and was told not to drive after a 2003 incident.

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Glaswegians came out in droves to pay tribute to the victims in the days following the crash

Douglas Gellan, cleaning services waste manager at the council, said he had never heard anything about Mr Clarke's medical history until the inquiry.

Speaking to Mr Gellan, Ms Bain asked: "If he had told the truth in his form to the council in 2010 and 2011 this all might have been prevented and we would not be here today."

Mr Gellan agreed with this statement, and said Mr Clarke would not have been employed in the job if his medical history was known.

18-year-old Erin McQuade and her grandparents Jack and Lorraine Sweeney were killed in the crash on 22 December last year.

Stephenie Tait, 29, and Ms Morton, 51, both from Glasgow, and Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh, also died.