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Farmer pulls two children from wreck of fatal Highland crash

Photo: Robert MacDonald/Northern Studios
Photo: Robert MacDonald/Northern Studios

A north farmer has told how he pulled two children from the wreckage of a car after it plunged into a river in a crash that left a 32-year-old man dead.

A woman and two other children were also injured in the Sunday afternoon tragedy in Caithness.

The one-vehicle crash, involving a grey Vauxhall Vectra, occurred around 4pm on the A99 Latheron to John o’ Groats route at Freswick Bridge.

The man, named last night as Garry Aikman, was taken to the Caithness General Hospital where he later died from his injuries.

Garry Aikman

A 26-year-old woman and a three-month-old baby girl were also taken to the Wick hospital with serious injuries.

A three-year-old girl and two boys, aged six and eight, were also admitted for treatment with minor injuries. All were later transferred to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

The road was closed while police officers carried out an investigation.

George Simpson was among the first at the scene of the accident in which the south-bound car came off the A99 at Freswick, struck a bridge and entered the burn.

He was working in a nearby field with his nephew Greg Robertson and Mr Robertson’s girlfriend Fiona Sinclair when they became aware of the accident.

He said: “Greg and Fiona were combining while I was baling straw when Fiona, who was on one of the tractors, noticed the car disappearing into the burn.

“A number of cars had stopped and we ran over to see if we could help.”

Mr Simpson, 53, who farms at Skirza Head, said the car had left the road and travelled 20 to 30 yards along the verge before striking a concrete wall, which is part of the bridge, and landing in the burn.

“It had probably happened about 10 minutes before we got there,” he said.

“The car was a mangled mass, on its side lying on the bottom of the burn.”

He said both adults and two of the children were by then out of the car but the other two children were still in it.

“There were people screaming that two children were still in the car and that they were stuck..

“I clambered down, reached in through the broken windscreen and got to the pair who were in the back seat.

“One was lying in quite a lot of water but it did not take long to get them out.”

He was helped by Mr Robertson and Ryan Steven, from John o’ Groats, who had come across the accident.

Mr Simpson was keen to praise Canisbay woman Anne Swanson.

“She was tremendous,” said Mr Simpson.

“She did a lot in helping look after and comforting the family members who were injured.”

Coastguard teams from Wick and Duncansby were tasked to provide assistance.

The road remained closed until 1.10am yesterday.

Police last night confirmed that Garry Aikman, from Wick, had died. His loved ones issued a statement saying: “The whole family is devastated by the tragic loss of Garry.

“He was a much loved grandson, son, brother, father and nephew. His loss will be sorely felt by us all and we are still in shock.”

Highlands and Islands Road Policing Sergeant Kate Park said: “Our thoughts are with Garry’s family at this time. We are continuing with inquiries to establish the full circumstances of the crash.

“Anyone with information is asked to contact the Road Policing Unit based at Dingwall through 101, quoting incident number 2370 of Sunday, September 6.

“We are looking to speak to anyone who may have seen the car on the road and is yet to speak to the police – please get in touch.

“We would also ask drivers who were in the area and had a dashcam to please check back and see if there is any footage of the vehicle on the road that may be able to assist our investigation.”

The accident happened at a sharp bend in the road adjoining the burn, which was about a couple of feet deep.

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