Husband remembers ‘bubbly’ wife after court rules on fatal bus crash

A man whose “loving and caring” wife died after being hit by a bus at her workplace has been awarded damages following a civil court hearing.

Rachel Cassells, 50, died on the evening of April 4 2015 from the injuries she suffered when the vehicle struck her in the car park of Trossachs Woollen Mill in Kilmahog near Callander, north of Stirling.

Mrs Cassells, from Stirling, who worked as a general catering assistant at the centre, made a habit of going out to greet tourists arriving on coaches at the visitor attraction, a judge found.

Her husband, Douglas Cassells, and another unnamed individual took a civil action against the coach firm Allan’s Group and his wife’s employer, Edinburgh Woollen Mill, to the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Douglas and Rachel Cassells
Douglas and Rachel Cassells

The decision of judge Lady Carmichael – in which she found both firms “jointly and severally liable to make reparation” to those bringing the case – was released by the court on Tuesday.

Details of the damages awarded have not been made public but it is understood to be a six-figure sum.

Following the decision, Mr Cassells said: “The loss of my wife is something I’ve struggled with every day since the incident and it’s something that will affect me for the rest of my life.

“The court process has helped me heal a little in terms of bringing about some answers.

“But nothing will change the fact that Rachel is not here, nor can anything or anyone replace her.”

In a statement issued via solicitors Digby Brown, he added: “She had a bubbly personality and her own special way of making people smile and, as well as being a vibrant, loving wife she was also a devoted daughter and spent a lot of time helping her parents and putting their needs before her own – a great example of her generous nature.

“Rachel was a very loving and caring person and the tragedy on that day impacted not just myself but her parents and everyone that knew her.

“It still upsets me to this day and I love her very, very much.”

The court heard how the single-decker coach involved was carrying tourists on the homeward leg of a day tour of Scotland, with the Trossachs Woollen Mill being the final stop on the route back to Edinburgh.

The court had to determine whether the driver and/or the employers had been negligent and it had to assess whether Mrs Cassells had already fallen to the ground when the bus started moving.

The employers argued there was no reason for Mrs Cassells to be in the car park and that welcoming the buses there was not one of her work duties.

In her decision, the judge found on the balance of probabilities that Mrs Cassells was upright when the bus started moving and had the driver “been exercising reasonable care he would have seen her and been able to avoid the accident”.

She added: “I found that the second defenders (the employers) knew of, permitted, and, to some extent at least, encouraged Mrs Cassells’s practice of greeting buses in the car park.

“They failed to take reasonable care for her safety in respects which I set out below, and their failure was a material cause of the accident.”

She assessed Mrs Cassells’ “contributory negligence” at 30%.

For the remaining 70% portion, she put 60% of the liability on the coach firm and 40% her employer.

Lady Carmichael wrote: “I regard the driver of the bus as primarily responsible for the accident and the injury to Mrs Cassells which resulted in her death.

“The risk of harm posed by a large vehicle in collision with a pedestrian is obviously relevant in considering causative potency.

“That said, I regard the second defenders as bearing a significant share of the responsibility.

“The risk of injury to employees in the car park was obvious, and was not mitigated by the very straightforward and practical measures which would have been open to the second defenders and which they adopted after the accident.”