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Stonehaven train crash: Agony for train conductor’s family as he dies in landslide smash just weeks after sister’s death

A CONDUCTOR killed when a train derailed in Scotland yesterday had lost his sister just weeks before in a double tragedy for his family.

Donald Dinnie died alongside driver Brett McCullough, 45, and a passenger after the train hit a landslide in the horror crash in Stonehaven, Scotland, on Wednesday morning.

The tragedy comes after sister Karen, 59, passed away suddenly at home in June leaving behind Donald, his mum and dad and sister Elaine McKechnie.

Paying tribute to her brother, heartbroken Elaine said: “You’re in the arms of an angel. Karen will look out for you RIP Bro.

“2 kids. 9 weeks apart.”

What we know so far:

A multi-agency probe has been launched into the crash yesterday after it emerged Network Rail was warned about dangerous landslips four weeks ago.

The engine is reported to have burst into flames after the carriages buckled and one rolled down a steep embankment yesterday.

According to a rail industry source, the Aberdeen to Glasgow ScotRail service had already reversed from another landslip caused by fierce storms and switched to a different set of tracks.

Dramatic images showed a tangle of mangled carriages from the wreckage on the tracks after the horror unfolded at around 9.45am in Stonehaven.

Donald, Brett and the unnamed passenger were declared dead after the smash.

Six others were taken to hospital, but are not believed to be seriously hurt.

Heartbroken relatives and colleagues of two of the victims spoke of their agony.

Married Mr McCullough lives around from 15 minutes from the crash site with his young family.

He had switched from a gas engineer to train driver seven years ago after chatting to a railway worker while servicing his boiler.

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.

“We are an extremely private family and ask that we are allowed to grieve without intrusion and hope that members of the press will understand our need to be left in peace at this time.”

Tributes have also poured in for Mr Dinnie, described as “an absolute gem” who “always had a smile on his face”.

Heartbroken Lisa Spark wrote on Facebook: “So sad that one of our relatives Donald Dinnie was a victim of the train accident in Aberdeen. Why is it always the good ones?”

Paying tribute to Mr Dinnie, of Banchory, Aberdeenshire, Linda Patrick said: “An absolute gem of a guy he will be sadly missed by lots of people.”

Friend Marie Ewan wrote on Facebook: “Can’t believe I’m writing this, RIP Don. You will never be forgotten.

“Jenna and William are going to be looking for the brightest star in the sky and they will know it’s you.

“Keep the smile on your face like always.”

Speaking at the site of the Stonehaven crash today, Grant Shapps said his heart went out to the friends and family of the people involved.

The Transport Secretary added: “One thing I can say having been here today and met people involved and seen the scene for myself is we absolutely must make sure we learn every possible lesson from a tragedy like this.”

The train derailed four miles south of Stonehaven station in Carmont, Aberdeenshire, at around 9.45am.

One local told how farmers ran to help and said: “They could not believe what they saw.

“It was like something out of a movie.”

Farmer Ronald Farquhar, 69, added: “I could see the smoke coming up through the trees and I knew it was bad. It’s just horrible.”

Around 30 emergency vehicles, including two air ambulances, rushed to the scene.

It is thought some had trouble crossing a flooded ford.

More than 2.5ins of rain had fallen during thunderstorms from 5am and 7am.

It comes just a month after the Office of Rail and Road warned there were six times as many floods on railways in 2019/20 than the previous year.

Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines said: “I will not pre-empt the outcome of the investigation into this awful event, but it is clear the weather was appalling and there were floods and landslips in the area.

“I have asked my teams to put extra measures in place, from immediate, heightened inspections, to medium-term work with meteorologists to improve information and forecasting.

“Our climate is changing and it is increasingly challenging the performance and reliability of the railway, but incidents like yesterday’s devastating accident are incredibly rare, and our railway remains the safest major railway in Europe.

“Yesterday was a tragedy, a truly horrific event, and my thoughts remain with everyone affected. Understanding what happened is the key to making sure it never occurs again.”

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