Rally car kills three spectators at the track side after ploughing through the crowd ‘like a bowling ball hitting skittles’
A spectator described a rally accident which killed three people and left one injured as “like a bowling ball hitting skittles”.
Police named those killed in the Jim Clark Rally on Saturday as Iain John Provan, 64, and Elizabeth Allan, 63, both from Barrhead, along with 71-year-old John Leonard Stern from Bearsden.
It was also confirmed a 61-year-old man who was injured in the collision is in a stable condition at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and a 61-year-old man who was injured in the earlier collision near Eccles is in a critical but stable condition at the same hospital.
Residents were yesterday laying floral tributes close to the crash just outside Swinton, in the Scottish Borders.
Yesterday afternoon police began to remove the bodies of the deceased amid speculation spectators at the crash site had been asked to move away from the area – but later returned.
Chris Gracey, 46, was watching the Jim Clark Rally just up the road from where the incident happened and saw the car career off the road into a group of around a dozen spectators.
Mr Gracey, a teacher, who watched the rally with his family, said the car involved was the seventh to take to the stage.
He said: “We go to the same place to watch it every time.
“I think it was the seventh car coming through and it just veered very sharply after taking the bridge.
“We couldn’t see the jump at the bridge because there’s woodland there and it just hung a right immediately into the right hand side and went into the field hitting the people who were stood there. It’s shocking.
“It was like a bowling ball hitting skittles – it was awful.”
Mr Gracey said the people standing in the field had moved away after a marshal car passed, before returning to their spot.
He added: “The tape was next to the hedge where normally the tape is about 30 metres either side of the road into the field and effectively, no one is allowed down there unless you are a steward or a marshal.
“You’re just not allowed down there. You wouldn’t even stand in the field 30 metres away – you would come up to a safer area where we were, so that was very strange.
“A marshal car came through before the stage started and told people to move away from that area. The car moved through and I think they came back.”
Describing the moment the car left the track, he added: “It was very surreal.
“There was a silence at the beginning.”
Ronnie Ford, 57, a site manager yesterday laid a tribute near the scene with his ten-year-old daughter, Lauren.
He said “It’s tragic. It’s our local event.
“Loads of my mates were running in the event.
“Unfortunately we heard last night – everybody was shocked about it. Everybody is really sickened and saddened.
“There was quite a sombre mood last night.”
The local motorsport enthusiast, added: “The car in front of the incident was Des Campbell.
“He had seen the Citroen DS behind him and then the DS wasn’t there.”
The car involved was number seven, whose driver was listed as David Carney, from Westport, County Mayo.
The co-driver of the Citroen DS3 is thought to be Ray Fitzpatrick, from Cahir, County Tipperary.
It is thought neither were injured in the smash.
A forensic team could be seen painstakingly working at the site throughout yesterday morning, while the rally car involved remained on the scene.
White tents were erected on the road.
Two rally participants, who did not take part in this year’s event and did not wish to be named, said the part of the road where the incident occurred is “fairly straightforward”.
One added there was a small jump but the cars would not “take much air”.
The fatal crash at Swinton happened at 4pm – two hours after a car struck five spectators at Eccles.
They said: “The marshalls did step up after the first accident.
“Everything has got its risks. The whole rallying community is really close knit here.
“Everyone pulls together and tries to help everyone out.”
They said they hoped the accident would not have an affect on future rallies in the area which they said boost the Borders economy.
One said: “It’s a chance to see something that you never see in the the rest of mainland Britain – it’s the only closed road rally on the mainland.”
Chris Ellison, 60, a freelance photographer working at the rally, said he heard about the accident through a walkie talkie.
He said he knew it was not “a normal rally incident” when he heard numerous doctors using their call sign over the radio.
Speaking of the first crash, he said: “I spoke to someone who had been close by and said there had been a few Scottish lads who had a few beers. It was an unfortunate incident.”