Woman in car crash ignored by police for days 'could have lived' if saved sooner

A car crash where two people died and police didn’t visit the scene for three days is being scrutinised at a fatal accident inquiry this week.

But the full inquiry could be postponed as Police Scotland’s former chief constable Sir Iain Livingstone is currently taking part in another one.

Lamara Bell, 25, and 28-year-old Jon Yuill both died after their car crashed off the M9 in Stirling in July 2015.

They were left lying in the car for three days before being discovered – even though police had been told about the crash.

Ms Bell’s family was awarded more than £1 million in damages and Police Scotland was fined £100,000 after it emerged she pleaded for help when she was found three days after the crash.

At the High Court in Edinburgh the force pleaded guilty to health and safety failings which ‘materially contributed’ to Ms Bell’s death – and she probably would have survived if she’d been rescued sooner.

When their car was discovered on July 8 2015, Mr Yuill was pronounced dead at the scene and Ms Bell died four days later in hospital.

A member of the public reported the crashed vehicle to police on July 5, but no action was taken until another member of the public noticed the car three days later, heard Ms Bell pleading for help, and called the police.

Similar to an inquest in England and Wales, a fatal accident inquiry is not a criminal inquiry and is used to establish facts rather than apportion blame.

Their purpose includes determining the cause of death, the circumstances in which the death occurred, and to establish what reasonable precautions could have been taken to minimise the risk of future deaths in similar circumstances.

Procurator Fiscal Andy Shanks said: ‘Following a thorough and detailed investigation and criminal prosecution this inquiry will look at the full circumstances surrounding these tragic deaths and help avoid such an incident happening again.

‘The families of Lamara Bell and John Yuill and their legal representatives will continue to be updated as the Inquiry progresses.’

A lawyer representing Police Scotland asked for the full inquiry to be postponed, as Sir Iain Livingstone is currently a ‘core participant’ of the inquiry into the death of Sheku Bayoh – who died in police custody in 2015.

His participation was described by Murdo Macleod KC as a ‘significant undertaking’, and the inquiry could last ‘a number of weeks’.

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