Widow of Stonehaven train driver says he ‘did everything by the book’


The wife of the driver killed in the Stonehaven train derailment has hit out at suggestions he was to blame for the incident and said he “did everything by the book”.

Driver Brett McCullough, 45, died along with conductor Donald Dinnie, 58, and passenger Christopher Stuchbury, 62, in the 12 August crash in Aberdeenshire.

Six other passengers were taken to hospital.

Emergency services on scene in Stonehaven Credit: Newsline Media
Emergency services on the scene in Stonehaven. Pic: Newsline Media

Mr McCullough’s grieving wife, Stephanie, said she needed to clarify what had happened “because of the recent posts on various news channels implying my lovely husband was at fault”.

She said it was “extremely hurtful” that people were judging her husband’s actions “when they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about”.

An investigation by the RAIB found the train struck a landslip before coming off the track and sliding along the ground for 90 metres.

Mrs McCullough said her husband’s train had been held at Carmont for two hours before he was told it was safe to proceed north up the train line.

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“At this point in time the storm had past and the sun was shining, Brett did what he was told we know this because the ‘black box’ recorded Brett’s speed that was under the speed limit and the communications between Scotrail and Brett record everything!! (sic)” she wrote in a Facebook post.

Mr McCullough had spotted the landslide and applied the emergency brakes, she added.

“Many people don’t know that you can’t just stop a train! When the brakes are applied it could take up to a mile to stop a train, it’s not instant like a car.”

Brett McCullough leaves behind his wife and three children
Brett McCullough leaves behind his wife and three children

The RAIB has said its investigation is still ongoing and it is collecting evidence to help it identify “factors relevant to the cause of the accident and its consequences”.

It said factors likely to be taken into account include the actions of the people involved, recent inspections of drainage and earthworks in the area, management of the risks of extreme weather and actions taken in response to previous safety recommendations.

An annual health and safety report by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) last month warned Network Rail about not keeping up with extreme weather events.

It had noted a spike in landslips on Britain’s railways, as well as a surge in flooding events.

Brett McCullough was driving the train when it derailed, killing him
Brett McCullough was driving the train when it derailed, killing him

Mrs McCullough said: “I can’t stand people implying that my beautiful kind husband was to blame. He did everything he was told to do.

“I can assure you Brett loved his job and did everything by the book.

“Unfortunately coming round that corner there was nothing he could have done.”

She paid tribute to her “kind gentle husband” and said their three children were “heartbroken”.

“His family was his world and he cared so much about people,” she added.

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