It looked like Lockerbie

HeadLine: IT LOOKED LIKE LOCKERBIE
Daily Record, 23/12/1999, p4&5
by SHAUN MILNE

THE devastation left by the explosion which killed the Findlay family
convinced a neighbour it was a re-run of the Lockerbie disaster.
Ross Baxter said: “I thought a plane had crashed. It was like
Lockerbie. There were roof tiles and cables everywhere.
“It was horrific with smoke everywhere and a big empty space where the house had been. It had been wiped off the face the earth.
“There were people running out of houses in their nightclothes and some people were screaming.”
Ross, 42, ran out with his 17-year-old son, Ritchie, when the blast
shook their home in Shaw Street.
Drew Findlay, his wife Janette and their children, Stacey and Daryl,
all died in the rubble.
Relatives of the tragic family living in streets nearby were also
shaken by the explosion.
Janette Findlay’s 29-year-old cousin, Tom Findlay, said: “You never
think it will happen in your own town and certainly not to your own family.
“I was in bed when I heard the blast. The whole room shook. I got up and my golden retriever, normally placid, was going nuts barking.
“I assumed it was a plane crash because we are right in the flight path for Glasgow Airport.
“All the lights started going on in the street and all the burglar
alarms started ringing because of the force of the blast.
“All the neighbours were out in the street and someone told me my
relatives were involved.
“We couldn’t get to the site because it was cordoned off.
“It was only when we saw on television that one adult, two children and someone else was missing that we knew Janette and her family were involved.
“Janette and I spent a lot of time together as young children and
teenagers so it’s come as a real shock. The news just hasn’t sunk in
yet.”
Tom, who lives with his mother Nancy less than half a mile from the blast site on Shaw Street, told how Janette and Drew fell in love after meeting at a local pub.
The couple married 15 years ago and 35-year-old Drew was a
self-employed joiner who recently set up his own business.
Nancy Findlay, 70, said : “I’m just dumbstruck by all of this. It just
seems unbelievable .
“They were such a close, caring and loving family. The little girl,
Stacey, was such a pretty little thing and her brother was a smashing lad.
“We just can’t take it in. Janette’s mother, Nessie, will be absolutely
heartbroken. It will destroy her.
“Her brother was badly injured in a car crash in Carluke five months ago and is a virtual vegetable.
“It’s terrible and so tragic. It’s such a bad time of the year for
something like this to happen.”
Janette’s mother and father, Nessie and Adam Hogg, were being comforted by Janette’s sisters Arlene and Senga, whose house in Shaw Road was damaged by the blast.
They were staying at a family home on Shaw’s Road, which was within the area cordoned off by police.
Tom Baxter said: “Janette’s sister, Senga Gracie, lives across the road
from her and her conservatory has been flattened. It was a scene from a nightmare.”
Other terrified neighbours wakened by the blast simply ran through the dark into the cold and rain as flames shot into the sky and debris rained down around them.
Frantic neighbours told of the panic in the streets.
Steven Johnston, 16, said: “My whole family was woken up. It was an incredible noise. I thought a plane had crashed. The next thing was we heard shouting and people running about.”
Neighbour Margaret Gilfillan, 35, said: “My whole house just shuddered.
When I got down there it was just an empty space with rubble all over the place.
“I have been feeling sick ever since. The place was thick with smoke, I could hardly see.
“I saw a woman running screaming in the street in her nightie. She was trying to get into the wreckage of the house and had to be held back by other people.”
David Brown, 22, said: “The noise was incredible.It shook my house and all the windows. I know people who live in that row of houses and I am just praying that they have somehow survived. But the force of the blast was incredible.”
Local councillor Mushtaq Ahmad said: “I live almost a mile from where it happened, but my house shook so violently I thought something was happening
downstairs. It must have been a huge explosion.
“My heart goes out to the family involved. It is an absolutely
devastating blow particularly as everyone was looking forward to
Christmas.
“Larkhall is quite big now-adays, but it is still really a village at
heart. Everyone knows everyone else and the community will take this very badly.
“Now the whole town will have to act as one big family. We need to give our support to those affected directly by this tragedy.”
Strathclyde Police Chief Superintendent Louis Munn – who was wakened by the blast at his home four miles away in Hamilton – said: “I live four miles away, and the explosion woke me up.
“It’s a miracle nobody in the other houses was injured. It is a
terrible tragedy.”
Family friend Catherine Pink, of Waverley Street, Larkhall, said: “They were lovely, the kids were beautiful. Stacey was very talented. She had a part in a show at Larkhall Academy tonight, but they’ve cancelled it.
“Janette did a lot for Craigbank School. She was very popular. She used to help a lot and will be a big loss to the school.
“I was heartbroken when I heard the news this morning. There’s
devastation in the community. No one can take it in.
“Stacey was going to Hamilton today to buy a Christmas present for her boyfriend.”
One of Tracey’s schoolmates at Larkhall Academy said: “Everyone liked her. No one can believe she’s really gone. She was a quiet girl but she had lots of friends.
“We’re all very upset and some of my classmates got sent home because they couldn’t stop crying.”

***



Categories: by Shaun Milne, Daily Record articles

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