Families have spoken of their devastation over the deaths of three north-east men killed in the Stonehaven rail tragedy.
A train driver, conductor and passenger all lost their lives after the 6.38am Scotrail service from Aberdeen to Glasgow derailed at Carmont on Wednesday.
Brett McCullough, Donald Dinnie and Christopher Stuchbury died when the crash happened after thunderstorms caused heavy rainfall across the region.
Mr McCullough’s family said his death has left a “huge void” in their lives.
The 45-year-old train driver, who was married with three children, worked out of the Aberdeen depot.
His wife Stephanie, of Drumlithie, in Aberdeenshire, said: “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.”
Mr McCullough was originally from Bromley in Kent, but moved to Aberdeenshire to marry Stephanie.
He initially worked as a gas fitter, but changed careers after servicing the boiler of an Aberdeen train driver in 2011 when they started to talk about life on the railway.
Mr McCullough started working with Scotrail two years later.
The Scottish organiser of trade union Aslef (Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen) was one of many others to pay their respects.
Kevin Lindsay said: ‘The tragic accident at Stonehaven has affected everyone in the railway family, but especially the family and friends of the three people who died, and the six people who were injured.
“He was a dedicated train driver, who loved his job, and was very popular at the depot with his colleagues.
“Brett thought the world of his family, and we all thought the world of him.
“As train drivers our thoughts are not only with Brett’s family, but also with the family and friends of the conductor and the passenger on the 6.38 service out of Aberdeen.”
Conductor Mr Dinnie’s family said it was “heart-warming” to know so many people had cherished memories of his time on trains.
They said: “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.
“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.”
Mr Dinnie’s former neighbours in Westhill revealed he had been looking forward to his upcoming retirement.
One said: “He was a good friend. He would have been 58 today and he was looking forward to taking his pension at 60 and getting some more time on the golf course.”
Another said the train conductor was always helpful, even looking after his home while he was on holiday.
“He will be sorely missed,” he added. “He was a really nice guy.”
Mick Lynch, the senior assistant general secretary of rail union RMT, said: “It is absolutely clear that he was much loved and highly respected by all who knew him and his death is a tragedy that has shocked our entire industry.
“He lit up every room he walked into with his cheery banter and stories.
“Many knew Donald for most of his railway career as a driver and a guard.
“He was very much a family man and a valued, active and proud member of the RMT.
“His loss has cast a long shadow over his branch, his region and the whole national union.”
Members of Mr Dinnie’s extended family also posted tributes online, describing him as “one of the good ones” while others described him as a “great friend”.
Mr Dinnie was known for always bring joy to his passengers with his cheery demeanour.
Stonehaven councillor Dennis Robertson was a frequent traveller on Scotrail services before the pandemic.
Mr Robertson, who is blind, recalled the support of the conductor and his kind character.
He said: “I knew Donald during my regular train journeys and he always found time to have a chat.
“Sometimes he would even make himself comfortable and sit down opposite me and always without fail he would ask after my wife Ann.
“He made sure I always got a seat with a bit extra leg room so my guide dog had plenty of space, occasionally asking another passenger to move seats to accommodate Mr Q and latterly Murphy.
And Scottish forensic anthropologist Professor Dame Sue Black, of Stonehaven, also shared fond memories of travelling on the train.
She said in a post on social media:” For those of us who travelled on the 06.38 to Glasgow every day – I am heart sorry to hear that Donald (conductor) was a victim of the crash.
“A friend, a gentleman, always fun, full of life and now greatly missed by family, friends, colleagues and passengers.”
The passenger killed in the crash, Christopher Stuchbury, well a well-respected energy worker who volunteered in a local hospice.
The 62-year-old’s family issued a statement last night, which said: “Chris was a much-adored husband, son, dad, stepdad, grandad, 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.
“He also volunteered at Roxburghe House in Aberdeen during his spare time which he thoroughly enjoyed doing.
“We are devastated by his death.”
The former Lossiemouth High School pupil worked for Targe Towing, which provides tug boat services in ports including Peterhead, Aberdeen, Montrose, Dundee and in the Firth of Forth.
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead said the whole country’s thoughts were with the families of the three men and described it as an “awful tragedy”.
He added: “I have seen constituents paying lovely tributes to Mr Stuchbury, who still has close family in Burghead and I offer them all my deepest condolences at this difficult time.
“My thoughts are with the family and friends of all those who lost their lives in their terrible accident.”