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Prince Charles visits Aberdeenshire site of trail derailment that killed three people

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
The Prince of Wales during a visit to the scene at Stonehaven to meet first responders who attended the ScotRail train derailment near Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, which cost the lives of three people. (PA)
The Prince of Wales during a visit to the scene at Stonehaven to meet first responders who attended the ScotRail train derailment near Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, which cost the lives of three people. (PA)

Prince Charles has visited the site of a deadly train derailment, which killed three people, to thank the emergency responders who were called to the scene.

Driver Brett McCullough, conductor Donald Dinnie and passenger Christopher Stuchbury, died when carriages of the 6.38am Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street ScotRail service derailed near Stonehaven on Wednesday.

Charles, 71, known as the Duke of Rothesay when in Scotland, arrived at the scene on Friday morning, accompanied by emergency responders.

It’s understood all those who died were local to the area.

Charles met PC Liam Mercer and PC Eilidh McCabe, who were the first officers on the scene, and commended them for their bravery.

Charles at the scene at Stonehaven close to where a train derailed this week. (PA)
Charles at the scene at Stonehaven close to where a train derailed this week. (PA)
Charles visited the site on Friday, after the crash on Wednesday. (PA)
Charles visited the site on Friday, after the crash on Wednesday. (PA)

Read more: Train evacuated after it ploughs into landslide a day after Stonehaven tragedy

Charles met members of the police, fire service, Coastguard and Network Rail, who stood in a socially distanced circle as they spoke to the heir to the throne about the experience of responding on Wednesday.

Many recounted the sight of burning carriages.

The Queen, 94, sent a message on Wednesday after the crash, saying: “It was with great sadness that I heard of the train derailment earlier today in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire. 

“The Duke of Edinburgh, and entire Royal Family, join me in sending our thoughts and prayers to the families of those who have died and those who have been injured.  Our thanks go out to the emergency services for their response and dedication.”

She and Prince Philip, 99, are nearby in Balmoral, also in Aberdeenshire, but are in a bubble to ensure their safety during the coronavirus.

As the meeting was outside, Charles did not need to wear a face covering, but pictures indicate social distancing is being followed.

On Twitter, Clarence House wrote: “The Duke of Rothesay has visited the site of the train derailment in Stonehaven where he thanked first responders first on the scene of the incident on Wednesday. HRH spoke to representatives of the emergency services including the Scottish Ambulance Service & Police Scotland.”

Charles has kept to social distancing during the visit to the scene of the ScotRail derailment. (Ben Birchall/PA Wire)
Charles has kept to social distancing during the visit to the scene of the ScotRail derailment. (Ben Birchall/PA Wire)
The prince has met members of the emergency services. (Ben Birchall/PA Wire)
The prince has met members of the emergency services. (Ben Birchall/PA Wire)

McCullough, 45, has left behind wife Stephanie and three children.

His family said in a statement: “Words cannot describe the utterly devastating effect of Brett’s death on his family and friends.

“We have lost a wonderful husband, father and son in the most awful of circumstances.

“Brett was the most decent and loving human being we have ever known and his passing leaves a huge void in all our lives.

“We would like to thank the emergency services for their heroic efforts in helping everyone affected by this tragedy and for all the messages of support and condolence we have received.”

The Prince of Wales views the scene at Stonehaven after the derailment. (PA)
The Prince of Wales views the scene at Stonehaven after the derailment. (PA)
Charles is shown the scene as investigators continue their work. (PA)
Charles is shown the scene as investigators continue their work. (PA)

Read more: Prince Charles has 'no purpose' until Queen dies, says 'The Crown' actor

The family of Dinnie, 58, said: “As a family we are devastated by the sudden and tragic loss of Donald, a loving and proud dad, son, partner, brother, uncle and friend.

“No words could ever describe how much he will be missed by us all and there will always be a missing piece in our hearts.

“It is so heart warming to see how many people have fond memories of Donald and I am sure they have plenty of happy and funny stories to tell.

“He was a kind, caring and genuine person who was never found without a smile on his face. We know he will be deeply missed by all.

“Together we thank each and every one of you for your kind words and condolences but we kindly ask at this time that we have the chance to grieve privately as a family.”

Conductor Donald Dinnie who died in the Stonehaven derailment along with the driver and a passenger. (PA)
Conductor Donald Dinnie who died in the Stonehaven derailment along with the driver and a passenger. (PA)
Passenger Christopher Stuchbury also died in the Stonehaven derailment. (PA)
Passenger Christopher Stuchbury also died in the Stonehaven derailment. (PA)

Read more: Three dead, including driver, after train derailment 'caused by landslip'

Stuchbury’s family said he enjoyed volunteering at Roxburghe House, a specialist palliative care unit run by NHS Grampian.

Their statement said: “Chris was a much adored husband, son, dad, stepdad, granddad, brother and uncle and was a treasured and loved friend to many, including the Targe Towing Team where he was an integral and valued member of staff.

“We are devastated by his death and we request privacy at this difficult time as we come to terms with our loss.”

Charles meeting PC Eilidh McCabe (right) and PC Liam Mercer (second from right), the first two police officers who attended the scene of the ScotRail train derailment. (PA)
Charles meeting PC Eilidh McCabe (right) and PC Liam Mercer (second from right), the first two police officers who attended the scene of the ScotRail train derailment. (PA)

An investigation is underway by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, and Police Scotland, British Transport Police and rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road, will also carry out a probe.

Network Rail will inspect trackside slopes across the country, after the government ordered a review into them. Landslip during heavy rain is thought to have played a role in the Stonehaven incident.