A Dundee bus driver was killed after a car skidded on ice and hit his vehicle, a court has ruled.
Ian Fordyce, from Fintry, suffered fatal injuries after his bus carrying 13 Lathallan School pupils was hit by an Audi near Maryculter Bridge in Aberdeenshire in December 2017.
Four ambulances, four special operations retrieval units and a paramedic response team were sent to the scene on the B9077 South Deeside Road, along with five fire and rescue appliances.
None of the children suffered any serious injuries.
At a fatal accident inquiry, Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard Mr Fordyce – who had driven buses for 40 years – was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.
However, Sheriff Andrew Miller said that while it was “good practice” to wear a seatbelt it was unlikely it would have saved the 68-year-old.
He also said Aberdeenshire Council was not to blame for the condition of the icy road.
Ice was ‘dominant cause’ of crash, sheriff finds
During the inquiry, the court heard James Craddock tried to stop but failed to give way at a junction in his Audi A7 as ice had made braking difficult.
Mr Fordyce suffered a ruptured artery and fractures of the pelvis, spine, ribs and both legs.
Sheriff Miller said: “In my judgment, the dominant cause of this fatal collision was simply the presence of ice on the untreated surface of the unclassified road on its approach to the junction with the B9077, to an extent which Mr Craddock had not anticipated, as a result of which Mr Craddock was unable to bring his vehicle to a stop at the junction despite driving in an appropriate manner and despite his efforts to bring his vehicle to a stop prior to the junction.
“Having regard to the nature of the crushing damage to the front of the coach, around the driver’s area, and to the professor’s opinion that the outcome for Mr Fordyce would most likely have been the same even if he had been wearing his seatbelt at the time of this collision.
“Although I recognise the obvious fact that, as a general statement of good practice, drivers of any vehicles on public roads ought to wear seatbelts, I am unable to make any recommendation with regard to the taking of reasonable precautions, the making of improvements to any system of working, the introduction of a system of working or the taking of any other steps, which might realistically prevent other deaths in similar circumstances.”
Sheriff Miller also said he did not believe Aberdeenshire Council were to blame for the ice on the road.
He added: “I can identify no defects in the system of working followed by the council which may have contributed to this collision and no further precautions which the council might reasonably have taken with regard to the treatment of the roads which might realistically have avoided the collision.”
The inquiry made no formal recommendations.
‘Loved every minute’ of driving career, said family
Following his death, Mr Fordyce’s family paid tribute to him in a statement, saying: “Ian, affectionately known as ‘Fingers’ to most of his friends, was very well known and popular with everyone he met.
“He drove coaches for 40 years and loved every minute of it.
“He will be a sorely missed brother, father, grandfather and friend.”
Lathallan headteacher Richard Toley was among those who paid tribute to Mr Fordyce.
He said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
“He was a larger than life character who was extremely popular with our pupils. He will be missed by us all.”
Ice hockey team Dundee Comets also paid tribute to Mr Fordyce, who drove the squad to a number of their away fixtures throughout the years.
At the time of his death, a spokesman for the team said: “It is with great sadness that Dundee Comets share the news of the passing of Ian Fordyce (Fingers) who was tragically killed while driving a bus in Aberdeenshire.
“Fingers drove the Comets to many of their away fixtures over the years and held a special place in our hearts.
“RIP Fingers. Gone but not forgotten.”