Glasgow helicopter crash: Tributes paid to victims - 'a beautiful friend' and a 'highly professional' pilot


Tributes were paid today to victims of the Glasgow police helicopter crash, including the “very pleasant” and “highly professional” pilot, “a smashing lad” who helped his daughter to become a Scottish international footballer, and “a beautiful friend”.

Police formally identified the three crew members of the helicopter who died when it plunged through the roof of The Clutha bar on Friday night as pilot Captain David Traill, 51, and police officers Kirsty Nelis, 36, and Tony Collins, 41, who had both been previously commended for bravery.

Gary Arthur, 48, from the Paisley area, has also been named by police as one of at least five people in the bar who died, but others including poet John McGarrigle were identified by friends and relatives.

Jeanette Retson, a friend of Captain Traill, said he was “a lovely person”.

“I knew David was working with the police force and all day yesterday I was just hoping it wasn’t him that was in it [the helicopter],” she said.

“But I found out this morning, I’m so sorry, so sad … He loved his work. I am proud to know David Traill.”

Captain Traill served in the RAF and was a flying instructor at RAF Odiham in Hampshire before he became a civilian pilot. He had worked with the police for about four years.

Speaking to journalists outside a memorial service held at Glasgow Cathedral, Pat O’Meara, of the Scottish Ambulance Service, said he had flown with Captain Traill and described him as “a very pleasant person, a decent man, highly professional”.

The pilot’s cousin Heather Lawson wrote on her Facebook page: “ RIP David Traill my lovely big cousin away far too soon xxx”

PC Nelis reportedly received a bravery award in 2003 after tackling a man with a hammer while trapped in a lift with him in Greenock.

Some of her friends changed their Facebook profile pictures to a black square crossed by a thin blue line in her memory.

One, Andrina Romano, wrote: “For my beautiful friend Kirsty and all others involved. You will never be forgotten and I will miss you every day. Rip”

Speaking about all three on the helicopter, Sir Stephen House, chief constable of Police Scotland, said: “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.”

Chloe Arthur, 18, who plays for Celtic’s women’s football team and has been capped for Scotland at under-19 level, wrote on Twitter: “RIP dad, you'll always mean the world to me, I promise to do you proud, I love you with all my heart.” 

John Lyon, a friend of Mr Arthur, described him as a “ smashing lad” who was “a really talented footballer” when he was younger and had helped his daughter’s career, the Daily Record reported.

In a statement, Celtic sent its condolences to the families of all of those who were killed. “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,” the club added.

Mark O’Prey, 44, a window cleaner from East Kilbride, is also thought to have been killed.

John McGarrigle, 38, said on Saturday that an eyewitness had told him his father, John McGarrigle, 59, had been killed while sitting at his favourite spot in the bar.

Mr McGarrigle senior was a published poet, who went to poetry nights at The Scotia pub, which is not far from The Clutha.

The blogger Ann Arky of the Radical Glasgow website wrote: “John didn't have an easy life, but he lived it with energy. 

“I always thought that in his poetry, he could capture the full spectrum of human emotions, he could come up with the witty, ridiculously funny, stupidly funny and the profoundly moving.”

In one poem, Refuge, he wrote about finding beauty among the litter in hills near Glasgow.

“And when the snow comes to hide the sins of man, you'll find in this winter wonderland a refuge,” he said.

Video: Helicopter removed from pub

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