Denny mum’s anguish over son’s death

David Westwater (22) died in a forklift truck accident
David Westwater (22) died in a forklift truck accident

A grief-stricken mum revealed the anguish of hearing details of her beloved eldest son’s last moments.

David Westwater was only 22 when he died in 2012 after an accident at his Coatbridge workplace.

Elaine Smith (42), of Denny. Mother of David Westwater who died on August 28, 2012 when a forklift truck he was driving toppled over and landed on him.

Elaine Smith (42), of Denny. Mother of David Westwater who died on August 28, 2012 when a forklift truck he was driving toppled over and landed on him.

This week his mother, Elaine Smith (42), told how she sat in court as his employer admitted health and safety breaches which led to David’s death.

Speaking at her Denny home, she said: “I had to go to court and hear it for myself. But it was a horrible experience.

“I’ve been having nightmares ever since. I imagine David is shouting for me to help him and I’m not there.”

Elaine said her grief is compounded by the failure of police at the time to tell them what had happened.

After learning there had been an accident, the family was forced to ring round hospitals, trying desperately to find out if he was still alive.

It was three days after the tragedy when police contacted them for the first time.

Heartbroken Elaine waited eight days to see the body of her eldest son after he was killed in a forklift truck accident.

More than two years on, she still expects him to walk down the path of their home in Sutherland Drive, Denny.

Her grief is raw as she reveals how the dreadful events of August 28, 2012 unfolded.

David had only been working at B.D. Pinkney and Company in Coatbridge for 10 days when the tragedy occurred.

However, he should never have been driving the forklift as he hadn’t received the correct tuition.

When it toppled over, David, known as Westy to friends, was thrown out but died instantly when the vehicle toppled onto him,

His brother Callum, then 18, witnessed the horrific accident and cradled his brother in his arms.

He phoned Elaine’s husband, Derek Smith (41), to say there had been an accident but was too upset to say more.

Derek immediately went to tell Elaine, who was then at her work in The Wheelhouse Restaurant in Falkirk.

She said: “I remember leaving the building screaming because we didn’t know how David was. By the time we got home, our house was full of relatives.

“We sat and waited and waited. We kept expecting the police to come, but they didn’t.

“It was horrendous, just sitting waiting, but it was all we could do. Derek and my dad were constantly phoning, but no-one could tell us anything.

“Even my doctor tried phoning round hospitals in the area to find out if he was being treated, but we heard nothing.”

Eventually Callum returned home, covered in David’s blood from head to toe.

Elaine added: “I was screaming ‘where’s David’ but he couldn’t speak, he was completely traumatised. The police hadn’t even brought him home.

“The police never came and they denied me my chance to be with both my boys when they needed me.

“I could have been there within 20 minutes, but they didn’t tell me what was going on.

“The police cheated me.”

The accident occurred at 4.40 p.m. on the Tuesday, but it wasn’t until the Friday that a police family liaison officer turned up at the family home. But still no-one could tell them where David’s body was.

“We were told he was in Dundee, then Glasgow, but no-one could tell us where we could see him. I never identified him.

“Thankfully, when we got in touch with the undertakers Cuthells they were able to find out he was in Glasgow and they brought him home to Denny – eight days after he died.”

Hundreds of mourners packed Falkirk Crematorium for David’s funeral, including many members of the Central Rio football team that he had coached since he was 18.

A former Nethermains Primary and Denny High pupil, David was a football fan and some of his ashes were spread at Ibrox where he was a season ticket holder.

His employer, Basil Pinkney (69), managing director of B.D. Pinkney and Company, will be sentenced at Airdrie Sheriff Court next Thursday.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We can confirm that the police authority received a complaint from Mrs Smith, and thereafter sent correspondence to her in December 2013 with a note of our findings. Mrs Smith was advised at that time that, if she was not satisfied with our findings, she could contact the Police Investigations and Complaints Commissioner for a review, which she elected to do.”

Elaine said she has only managed to get through the last two years with the support of her loving family, including parents Allan and Isobel Westwater.

She tried to go back to work at The Wheelhouse but found it difficult to cope. However, she is now employed at the Wheatlands Care Home and finds working with the elderly residents helps with her grief.

Elaine, who is also mum to Kai (12) and Ciarra (10), added: “I’ve always lived for my children, now all I can do is exist for them.

“I was only 17 when I had David. We grew up together – and I thought we would grow old together.”