The family of an Aberdeen man, killed when a train derailed near Stonehaven last summer, say their grief is still “very raw” – as they speak publicly about their loss for the first time.
Chris Stuchbury was travelling to Fife for one of his final shifts as a tugboat master in the Firth of Forth on the morning of August 12, when the train came off the rails at Carmont, near Stonehaven.
He was the only passenger killed in the crash, which also took the lives of driver Brett McCullough, 45, and conductor Donald Dinnie, 58.
Mr Stuchbury, 62, had been only a month away from retirement, leaving his family “devastated” at missing out on a “long and active retirement” with him.
He was travelling to work for the penultimate time, as the train hit a landslip and fell down an embankment.
In our wide-ranging series investigating the reasons behind the crash, we spoke with the McCullough and Dinnie families who paid tribute to their loved ones.
You can read our series – the 6.54 From Stonehaven – here.
Eight months on from the tragedy Christopher’s wife Diane Stuchbury has spoken exclusively to us about the husband she “adored” – and the wealth of kind support friends and strangers have given her family.
Mrs Stuchbury spoke as the Rail Accident Investigation Branch published an interim report into the tragedy.
She said: “As a family, we have not felt ready or able to make any comment publicly about the accident and the loss of Chris.
“With the publication of the report by Network Rail last month and now RAIB’s interim report, it seems an appropriate time to do so.
“We do not wish to comment on the reports but we do wish to express our gratitude for the immeasurable support we have received.”
‘Devastated by his loss’
“Chris was adored by his family. He was travelling to his penultimate shift as a tug boat captain in the Firth of Forth.
“He was due to retire on September 9. We were very much looking forward to a long and active retirement and enjoying more time with Chris. We are devastated by his loss.”
Mr Stuchbury grew up in Burghead, before living in Blairgowrie with wife Helen and their children Neil and Faye.
He moved to Aberdeen after Helen’s sudden death in 2006 – and spent nearly 10 years volunteering at Roxburghe House palliative care centre in his spare time.
This morning, Mrs Stuchbury added: “Our grief is still very raw but we have found comfort in the sympathy and kindness which has been shown to us.
“We are also thinking of the other families who have been affected by this tragedy and what they are going through.
“We were quite overwhelmed that Aslef and the RMT unions chose to share with us the funds they raised.
“I wrote to them at the time to express our thanks to their members and everyone who donated and I repeat our thanks again today.”
Fundraisers collected more than £140,000 to support the families of the three men killed in the derailment.
‘Tragedy cannot be repeated’
The Stuchbury family’s solicitor Lisa Gregory, of Grant Smith Law Practice, said: “This is a deeply distressing case.
“We expect that our public transport system is safe and closely regulated.
“Chris and his family have paid the ultimate price for apparent failings in that system.
“We trust that the investigations by the RAIB and by the Office of Rail and Road, Police Scotland and the British Transport Police will be comprehensive and timely and will identify all necessary steps to be taken to ensure the improvement of safety standards on our railways, and indeed on the wider transport infrastructure, to restore public confidence and ensure that this type of tragedy cannot be repeated.
“Diane and the rest of Chris’ family have chosen to issue this statement because they wish to acknowledge the compassion they have been shown.
“In return, they ask that their privacy is respected to allow them to come to terms with their loss, in so far as that is possible, and to allow the authorities to complete the investigations and implement the necessary changes.”