Fam­ily speak out over Clutha probe

Rutherglen Reformer - - Front Page - Dou­glas Dickie

The fam­ily of a Cam­bus­lang man who died in the Clutha he­li­copter dis­as­ter have said they aren’t in­ter­ested in blam­ing any­one in the af­ter­math of the crash in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Joe Cusker (59) was one of seven peo­ple in the packed Clutha Vaults pub killed when a po­lice he­li­copter crashed through the roof on Fri­day, Novem­ber 29, 2013. The three peo­ple on board the he­li­copter also died.

On Fri­day, the Air Ac­ci­dents In­ves­ti­ga­tion Branch re­leased their find­ings into the crash.

Some fam­i­lies have been up­set at the lack of in­for­ma­tion in the con­clu­sions, while oth­ers have pointed to the fact that the he­li­copter pi­lot, David Traill, ap­par­ently can­celled a low fuel warn­ing alarm five times.

How­ever, Joe’s step­son, David McCle­mont (33), told the Re­former this week he didn’t want to feel “bit­ter”.

He said: “One thing they told us at the brief­ing is that they know the se­quence of the warn­ings but not when they hap­pened.

“You can get fuel warn­ings just with fuel swish­ing about the tank and it’s very pos­si­ble he was get­ting other read­ings telling him there was plenty of fuel in the tank.

“The worst we can say is that we just don’t know and I would not like to start spec­u­lat­ing on the pi­lot’s rep­u­ta­tion. He has a fam­ily, the same as us and they are suf­fer­ing too.

“I don’t want to feel bit­ter to­wards any­one.”

Joe Cusker’s fam­ily have said they are sat­is­fied with the work done by in­ves­ti­ga­tors into the Clutha dis­as­ter.

In their re­port, the Air Ac­ci­dents In­ves­ti­ga­tion Branch rec­om­mended that po­lice he­li­copters should be equipped with black box recorders.

The probe also found two trans­fer pumps that could have pro­vided fuel to the en­gines were turned off, and that an emer­gency-land­ing pro­ce­dure was not fol­lowed.

But the AAIB ad­mit­ted the rea­sons be­hind the cat­a­strophic chain of events would re­main “un­known” be­cause of the lack of an on-board flight recorder.

A Fa­tal Ac­ci­dent In­quiry will now be held, with the Crown Of­fice say­ing they hope to start “as soon as pos­si­ble.”

Joe’s step­son, David McCle­mont (pic­tured be­low), said: “I want to thank the in­ves­ti­ga­tors, clearly they did a power of work and did not have much to work with. They have been very thor­ough, they went to ev­ery length to work out what hap­pened.

“The next stage is the FAI. We’d like to draw a line un­der this and this is an­other step to­wards do­ing that.

“That could not pro­ceed un­til this in­ves­ti­ga­tion was over, but we’re hop­ing it would be quite quick. Cer­tainly with the bin lorry, it seemed to pro­ceed quickly.

“It hap­pened and noth­ing can change that, noth­ing can bring those peo­ple back. Not ev­ery­one will feel like this, but I don’t feel I need to know every­thing, it’s just a case of what lessons we can learn.

“It’s good they have rec­om­mended black box recorders, hope­fully if some­thing like this hap­pens again we can get the an­swers more eas­ily.”

Joe, who was mar­ried to David’s mother, Mar­garet (60), in 2011, had been with his friends in the Clutha and was orig­i­nally ex­pected to sur­vive the crash.

He spent nearly two weeks in in­ten­sive care at Glas­gow Royal In­fir­mary with a num­ber of in­juries. He passed away on De­cem­ber 12, 2013, leav­ing be­hind a bro­ken- hearted fam­ily. As well as Mar­garet and David, he also left a son, Kieran (29) and two step­daugh­ters, Tina and Yvonne.

Orig­i­nally from the Partick area, Joe moved to Cam­bus­lang with his par­ents and also lived for some time in Ruther­glen.

He worked as a hous­ing of­fi­cer in Cam­bus­lang, first for Glas­gow Dis­trict Coun­cil and then South La­nark­shire Coun­cil be­fore tak­ing early retirement. He con­tin­ued to vol­un­teer with Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang Hous­ing As­so­ci­a­tion.

He was well known for his keen in­ter­est in pol­i­tics and was a com­mit­ted so­cial­ist.

Af­ter his death, Mar­garet, who suf­fers from fibromyalgia, moved into the flat David shared with his wife, Car­o­line ( 33) and young daugh­ter, Molly, who turns three next month, in Cam­bus­lang.

The fam­ily have now moved to a new home in Blan­tyre. The cou­ple have a sec­ond daugh­ter, Me­gan who is five months.

David ad­mits the pub­lic na­ture of Joe’s death has made it harder to move on: “When you lose some­one in nor­mal cir­cum­stances, af­ter two years you are able to move on, but with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and the pub­lic na­ture of the ac­ci­dent has made it harder. “My mother is do­ing as well as you can imag­ine. When we were in the flat we knew it was only tem­po­rary, there was al­ways that feel­ing we were in limbo. Where we are now has plenty of space and we feel like we can start mov­ing for­ward.

“She has a good cir­cle of friends who still take her out and keep her busy.

“I’ve not been back to the Clutha. I would not rule it out but it’s not some­thing I feel the need to do.”

Vic­tim Joe Cusker was one of 10 peo­ple killed in the Clutha dis­as­ter

Wreck­age The he­li­copter

Tough time

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