Friday, November 30, 2007

The Flannigan Family Tragedy.

Amid the many tragic consequences of the Lockerbie disaster, there are some that are all too often forgotten amid the international politics, the webs of intelligence and the conflicting investigations; the people of Lockerbie themselves. Those who died in the small Scottish town, and those who were left to rebuild their houses and their lives.

In 2000, twelve years after the Pan Am bombing, there were those who's lives were irreversibly changed in 1988, and there were some still struggling to come to terms with the terrible night four days before Christmas. One such person was Stephen Flannigan, whose life changed, in a moment, beyond almost anyone's comprehension.

IT WAS 7pm on 21 December 1988, a wet and miserable winter evening. In the small Dumfriesshire market town of Lockerbie local people were looking forward to Christmas, some wrapping presents and others preparing their dinner. Fourteen-year-old Steven Flannigan had just braved the weather to go to a neighbour's house to set up his present of a new bicycle for his younger sister Joanne. His parents Kathleen and Thomas were also at home with his sister.

About 60 miles away, in Prestwick Airport's control tower, air traffic controller Alan Topp was watching his radar screen as Pan American Flight 103 from London to New York - the Clipper Maid of the Seas - crossed the Solway Firth. "Clipper 103 requesting oceanic clearance," First Officer Raymond Wagner said. It was the standard, normal request for aircraft about to cross the Atlantic.

Not a single person in the immediate area forgets where they were when their routine, pre-Christmas evening was transformed into a scene of unimaginable death and destruction. While Topp watched in disbelief as his radar screen showed the deterioration of the aircraft in dozens of bright green squares, the bulk of Pan Am 103 scored a direct hit on Lockerbie.

"The fire was falling down from the sky," said resident Jasmine Bell. "Everything was burning - the driveway, the lawn, the hedges, the rooftops." In seconds the quiet normality of Lockerbie, and all the Christmas preparation that was taking place, was shattered.

The aviation fuel exploded when the plane hit the ground sending what residents described as "an atomic mushroom" through the houses in the crescent. Many homes - along with the people inside - were vaporised. Another 21 homes were so badly damaged they had to be demolished. The giant fireball rose above the houses and moved towards the A74 Glasgow to Carlisle motorway, burning cars on the southbound carriageway.

Eleven residents of Lockerbie lost their lives when the plane hit. Steven Flannigan, who had taken his sister's new bicycle to a neighbour, looked out to see his house gone. Nothing of his parents, Katherine and Thomas, were ever found and his 10-year-old sister Joanne also died. The visit to his neighbour had saved Steven's life but suddenly left him an orphan.

Four members of one family, Jack and Rosalind Somerville, and their children Paul and Lynsey, who lived at number 15 Sherwood Crescent, were all killed instantly.

Steven Flannigan became known as the "Orphan of Lockerbie". He and his older brother David, who had been in Blackpool on the night of the bombing, won a $3.2 million settlement from Pan Am.

In 1993, David died at a hostel in Thailand.

Steven tried to make a go of things but in August 2000, on his 26th Birthday, he lay down on a railroad track in Wiltshire, England, and was killed by a train.

When Steven was finally laid to rest in a pretty Lockerbie graveyard, his remains joined those of his brother and sister. Had the bodies of his parents not been destroyed when Pan-Am 103 crashed into their terraced bungalow with the force of a meteorite on the night of 21 December 1988, his would be the last of five corpses in one grave. As it is, only two coffins had to be disturbed to make space for the last of the Flannigan clan.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

there is no words

9:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think of you Steven wherever you are and all of the others who died and where also left behind to pick up the pieces! What a sad sad story! On this date tonight 21 August 2009 God bless

12:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think of you often Steven and I remember the sadness around you that time I met I met you although I knew nothing about what had happened. May you finally be at peace this night 31st August 2009.

11:05 PM  

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