Glasgow bin lorry crash: Archbishop cried with bereaved family
- 24 December 2014
- From the section Glasgow & West Scotland
A Catholic clergyman has told how he wept with a woman who saw her daughter and parents die in a bin lorry crash which killed six people in Glasgow.
Archbishop of Glasgow Philip Tartaglia told a memorial service how he tried to comfort the woman and her family "before the abyss of their loss".
The lorry killed three other women and hurt 10 others before crashing.
Christmas lights across Scotland have been turned off as a mark of respect for the people who died.
About 72,000 people signed up to a Facebook page, which asked participants to turn off their Christmas decorations at 21:00 GMT, and hold a two-minute silence.
It emerged earlier that Jacqueline McQuade saw her daughter Erin and parents Jack and Lorraine Sweeney die.
Student Erin McQuade, 18, and her grandparents Jack, 68, and Lorraine Sweeney, 69, all from Dumbarton, were among the victims of Monday's crash.
Ms McQuade's mother Jacqueline had reportedly gone to take out money from a cash machine when her daughter and parents were struck.
Primary school teacher Stephenie Tait, 29, from Glasgow, also died as did Gillian Ewing, 52, from Edinburgh, and Jacqueline Morton, 51, from Glasgow.
During a memorial service at St Andrew's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Glasgow, Archbishop Tartaglia offered prayers for those who had died, those who survived and those who were left traumatised by what they saw.
He told the congregation that on the evening of the tragedy he was "privileged to be permitted to spend some time with one of the families who had been cruelly devastated".
"I was able to witness and share the grief and sadness of a mother and of a father for their daughter, and of two daughters for their mother and father," he said.
"The distressed woman to whom I was speaking had seen her daughter and her own parents killed almost right in front of her. Can you imagine the horror?
"I tried to console them and comfort them. We spoke and we cried and we were silent before the abyss of their loss and the random meaninglessness of what had happened."
Archbishop Tartaglia said the bereaved family "openly spoke of their faith, but their faith was sorely tried", adding: "I commended them silently to God that the Lord would find the way to bring them comfort."
He acknowledged that the "bereaved and devastated families may not feel the joy of Christmas because of their deep sadness and distress".
The clergyman asked: "What of their grief, their bewilderment, their anger, their desperation, their unanswered questions?
"I wish I could take all that away, but I know that my words are completely inadequate."
Archbishop Tartaglia asked people to "reach out to your neighbour who needs you".
He added: "I reach out to the bereaved and to all those who are suffering, and say "God is with us"; trust in Him and console one another.
"I reach out to my city, and say, "Do not be afraid. God is with us"; believe in Him and support our suffering people."
Earlier, a friend of Ms Morton's issued a statement on behalf of her family, which said: "Partner John, sons Adam, Scott and the family are deeply shocked and saddened about the tragic accident on Monday culminating in the loss of our Jacqueline.
"We would like to pass on our thoughts and prayers to other families affected by this tragedy.
"We would like to pass on our thanks to the people who got to Jacqueline first and also to the emergency services at this difficult time."
Of the 10 people who were injured, five people remain in hospital.
Three patients remain in Glasgow Royal Infirmary. One is a 14-year-old girl who is serious but stable, one is an 18-year-old woman and one is a 64-year-old woman, both of whom are stable.
A 57-year-old man is being treated at the Western Infirmary and is in a stable condition. The BBC understands this patient was the driver of the bin lorry.
A 49-year-old woman, who is being treated at the Southern General Hospital, is stable.
The brother of one of the women who is being treated at Glasgow Royal Infirmary told BBC Scotland that she could not remember anything about the incident, which happened when she was Christmas shopping.
John Weatherall - who did not want his sister's name to be made public - said she had broken her left arm and leg in multiple places as well as facial injuries.
He said: "She had two operations yesterday, she came through them. My sister is very strong willed, very strong spirited so hopefully she is on the mend."
Mr Weatherall, who travelled to Glasgow from London after hearing that his sister had been involved in the crash, thanked the emergency services, hospital staff and members of the public who had helped.
He added: "They have been brilliant. Obviously a lot of strangers helped on the spot, the hospital has been brilliant and the staff have just been marvellous. We have been so well looked after."
Police Scotland said they were conducting an ongoing "thorough and exhaustive" inquiry into the crash and stressed there was nothing to suggest it was "a deliberate or malicious act".
Senior investigating officer, Det Supt Andy Gunn, said the inquiry into what had happened would "take as long as is required".
He issued another appeal for any footage, from mobile phones or other equipment, to be sent to the dedicated police email address: email@example.com
Meanwhile, Glasgow City Council has set up a fund for donations. The local authority and the Scottish government have already pledged a total of £60,000.
George Square reopened to the public on Tuesday afternoon and the metal cordons which were put in place following the crash were lifted.
It is known that the city council lorry hit the first pedestrian near Glasgow Museum of Modern Art (Goma) in Queen Street, then mounted the pavement and travelled hundreds of metres, hitting several others before crashing into the Millennium Hotel at George Square.
Eyewitnesses said the lorry driver had been "slumped over his wheel".
Glasgow City Council confirmed that three employees were in the lorry before the crash.