Glasgow helicopter crash: father's anger over slow rescue bid


The family of a man who has been missing since a police helicopter crashed through the roof of Glasgow's Clutha pub have criticised the speed of the rescue operation as officers confirmed a ninth body has been discovered in the wreckage.

The family of Mark O'Prey fear he may be one of the victims still buried under the rubble. His father, Ian, and sister, Louise, spent much of Sunday at the crash site waiting for news.

Mr O'Prey's father Ian told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme of the family's frustration at the time it has taken to remove the wreckage.

It came as Police Scotland also confirmed Samuel McGhee, 56, of Glasgow, was killed while in the bar. The three helicopter crew members, including two officers commended for bravery, were named on Sunday.

It emerged that PC Tony Collins, one of the two, received a national award last year after diving into a canal to save a drowning woman. He is understood to have been married with at least one child, a boy in his teens.

David Traill, the pilot, is a former RAF flight lieutenant who is thought to have been one of the Duke of Cambridge’s flight instructors.

Rescuers are now aiming to lift the helicopter wreckage from the roof and have said they cannot rule out the possibility of more bodies being found.

Mr O'Prey said: "I think it's taking far too long. Any chance they had is diminishing as the hours go by and we don't know, are they going to get them out today?

"I thought if they'd made a better attempt on the Saturday night, I thought they perhaps could have got them out a lot earlier than they did but I think they were more concerned about this helicopter.

"I don't know but I feel it could have been done better. Communication was dreadful. I'm sure they could have got the bodies out quicker."

Mark's sister Louise added: "There is terrible things going through my head about what kind of state he's in and we want to get him back intact," she said.

"We are pretty sure that he's gone but until I get that information we just don't know when that's going to be.

"I can't accept it until then. But there's still that glimmer of hope that they might bring people out alive, even though they are telling us that there is nobody in there alive."

Speaking in the early hours of this morning, DCC Rose Fitzpatrick said: “The site is extremely challenging and the efforts of colleagues from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and investigators have been painstaking.

“We can now confirm that Samuel McGhee died during the incident on Friday. Our thoughts are with his family and friends tonight as they are with all those affected by this tragedy.


“Sadly I can also confirm the discovery of a further body within the site. This takes to nine the total number of people who died on Friday night.”

Some of the families of the missing have become frustrated at the slow speed of the search but she said that the “absolute priority” was safety.

She added: “This process takes time, as formal identification procedures have to take place before we can notify relatives and publicly confirm identities.”

Nicola Sturgeon, the Deputy First Minister said: "It's important that the helicopter is removed in a way that firstly preserves the dignity of the victims inside the pub, but secondly doesn't impose any unnecessary risks on the people carrying out this work.

"I fully and completely understand the frustration and the anguish for people who are waiting for news."

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said heavy equipment was brought in on Sunday, and the three-tonne helicopter had been secured to prevent it sinking further into the building.


The recovery operation’s aim today is to prepare the rest of the aircraft for lifting during daylight hours on Monday.

Assistant chief officer David Goodhew told BBC Scotland: "That has allowed our urban search and rescue teams to actually tunnel under the helicopter without fear of it falling any further onto them.”

He said the Air Accident Investigation Branch want to get the largest part of the helicopter “out in one piece” but his officers had described conditions inside the pub as "dreadful", with crews working in extremely confined spaces.

"As they tunnel into the building they have to make sure that it is safe, and that there is not going to be any further collapse onto these people,” he said.

"So as they go into the building they have to shore it up to make sure that the helicopter doesn't sink and further parts of the building don't fall on rescue crews."

Sections of the rotor blades were hoisted away from the roof on Sunday.

Once the helicopter has been lifted it will be moved to a secure site for detailed investigation.

On Sunday, police named three dead helicopter crew as pilot David Traill, 51, and Police Constables Kirsty Nelis, 36, and Tony Collins, 43. The first victim to be named was pub-goer Gary Arthur, 48, of Paisley.

John McGarrigle, 59, a working class poet, was said by his son to have died in the seat he used every time he visited the pub.

Mr O’Prey, 44, a window cleaner from East Kilbride, was thought to have been standing close to a door, waiting for a friend who had gone outside for a cigarette when he died.

The Daily Mail reported that Mr Traill, 51, was a Chinook instructor at the Hampshire base where the Duke of Cambridge learned how to fly five years ago.

The former flight lieutenant, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, taught cadets how to fly Chinooks at RAF Odiham in 2007 and 2008, the same time the Prince was at the base being taught how to fly the helicopters.

Kensington Palace last night said officials were unable to get hold of the Prince to check, but it was ‘very possible’ that their paths had crossed during his military career.