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Stonehaven rail crash: Family creates memorial as nation pays tribute on first anniversary

Brett McCullough, Chris Stuchbury and Donald Dinnie, who died in the Stonehaven rail crash a year ago today
Brett McCullough, Chris Stuchbury and Donald Dinnie, who died in the Stonehaven rail crash a year ago today

A memorial has been created in tribute to a Stonehaven rail crash victim, his family have announced, on the day the nation commemorates those who died.

Today is the first anniversary of the disaster and among those who died was passenger Chris Stuchbury, 62, of Aberdeen.

On the day of the crash, Chris was travelling from Aberdeen to Fife for his penultimate shift as a tug boat captain.

The others who died were train driver Brett McCullough, 45, of Stonehaven, and conductor Donald Dinnie, 58, of Westhill.

The other six people on board were injured.

In the aftermath of the derailment, which happened at Carmont near Stonehaven, thousands of people from across the UK supported fundraising efforts that raised £142,200 – to be divided between the three families of those who died.

Chris Stuchbury, 62, of Aberdeen. He worked in Fife and grew up in Burghead.

‘We will be thinking of the other families’

Now, Chris’s wife Diane has said: “We wish to express again our thanks for the money which was raised and donated to us.

“Some of it was used to erect a memorial for Chris in a place dear to his heart.”

She added: “The family will be spending the day together.

“We will be thinking of the other families who have lost loved ones.”

To mark today’s anniversary, there will be a minute’s silence at rail stations across Scotland at 9.43am – exactly a year on from when the crash was reported to emergency services by Network Rail staff who were doing routine work close by.

All trains in Scotland will come to a halt at that time – where safe to do so – so staff and passengers can observe the minute’s silence.

PA announcements on stations and trains will inform customers of the tribute.

Some of the loved ones of the victims will gather at Stonehaven Rail Station for a private commemoration.

The Railway Chaplain for North Scotland Dereck Grant will say a few words and those present will lay wreaths at a new memorial plaque that has been installed at the station.

Members of the public and the media are being respectfully asked not to attend for the duration of the private commemoration.

‘We owe it to their families’

UK Government Transport Secretary Grant Shapps visited the crash scene the day after the tragedy.

Today, he told us: “It has been a year since Brett McCullough, Donald Dinnie and Christopher Stuchbury tragically lost their lives in the Stonehaven train derailment.

UK Government Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on a visit to the site the day after the crash

“No one should have to mourn for their loved ones in this way and I am committed to ensuring that the rail industry will learn from this tragedy.

“We owe it to their memory and to their families.”

There are two ongoing investigations into the crash.

One of them is being conducted by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, whose chief inspector of rail accidents is Simon French.

He told us: “Today marks the anniversary of the Carmont rail accident which tragically saw three lives lost.

“Our thoughts are with the families, loved ones and friends of Brett McCullough, Chris Stuchbury and Donald Dinnie at this difficult time, as well as with the surviving passengers and crew.”

Alex Hynes at the scene of the derailment last year.

Scotland’s Railway managing director Alex Hynes said: “Everyone at Scotland’s Railway will always be broken-hearted about the terrible accident at Stonehaven.

‘We will never forget’

“Today, exactly a year on, we pay tribute to Brett, Donald and Christopher, who lost their lives, and also, of course, we remember those who were injured.

“We come together as Scotland’s railway family and we send our love and support to everyone, particularly the loved ones of the deceased, who have been affected by the tragedy.

“We will never forget.”

Ahead of the minute silence, Transport Scotland shared a video of Transport Minister Graeme Dey who sent his thoughts to the family and friends of those affected and paid tribute to the emergency services.

Local politicians have also been marking the anniversary by sharing messages of condolence online.

On Twitter, Andrew Bowie, the Scottish Conservative MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, wrote: “Today we will pause and remember the awful events at Carmont one year ago.

“In particular I will be thinking of the families of Brett, Chris and Donald who so tragically lost their lives. None of us who saw the devastation wrought by the accident will ever forget that day.”

SNP MP Kirsty Blackman wrote: “Thinking of all those involved or affected by the Stonehaven derailment, one year on.”

Tess White, Scottish Conservative MSP, shared that she would be joining the Scotrail minute silence and said her thoughts were with all of those affected by the “devastating” accident.

The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) has spoken out on the anniversary to lobby for more action on combating climate change, as heavy rain was a factor in the derailment.

‘We will see more such tragedies’

TSSA general secretary Manual Cortes said: “Today we remember the driver, conductor and passenger who sadly died in the events at Carmont on Wednesday August 12 2020.

“The deaths of Brett McCullough, Donald Dinnie and Chris Stuchbury were felt across our railway family and our thoughts are with their families today.

Map showing weather conditions on the morning of the crash

“The sad truth is that we will see more such tragedies caused by climate change unless we act now.

“As we’ve seen just this week, extreme rainfall events, and their consequences, are becoming more common as our climate changes – and unless we take urgent action now to halt its progress those changes will become permanent and irreversible.”

Network Rail appointed a climate change taskforce after the tragedy, and has committed to making a series of improvements to avoid a repeat.

Kevin Lindsay, ASLEF’s organiser in Scotland, said the union would commemorate the crash with enormous sadness as it is still “fresh and raw in all our minds.”

Kevin Lindsay, Aslef’s organiser in Scotland.

He added: “The accident cast a long shadow across the railway industry, not just here in Scotland, but throughout the United Kingdom.

‘We will never forget Brett and Donald, who were doing their jobs, and Christopher, who was going about his business, but we will redouble our efforts to ensure that the railway is made safe for passengers and staff so that accidents of this sort do not happen again.”

With the co-operation of those closest to this tragedy, our Impact investigations team compiled a 14-part series, The 6:54 from Stonehaven, looking at the human impact of the crash, the circumstances that led to the incident, and hail those who responded so magnificently in the hours, days and weeks which followed.

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