Circus performers helped pull children from wreckage of fatal crash

An acrobat told how he and other performers in the troupe arrived on the scene to see the wrecked minibus driven by Alfredo Ciociola.

Zippos circus performers helped pull children from wreckage of minibus crash in Moray that killed five people Police Scotland

Circus performers helped remove two children from a minibus after it was involved in a fatal collision which claimed the lives of five people.

Acrobat David Amoll and his colleagues came across the crash on the A96 road as they were returning from Aberdeen to Elgin, Moray.

Mr Amoll said he used a sledgehammer to break a rear window on the minibus while another member of the troupe went into the vehicle.

He told the High Court in Edinburgh: “He told me there were three passengers in the van – two children and a woman.”

Mr Amoll said: “He picked the first kid up and brought him out. He was unresponsive. To me he was not breathing at all.”

The circus artist said: “He handed me the second child who was covered in blood. He was very stressed and crying.”

He said he passed the first child to another colleague and added: “He took him to a separate place to try to resuscitate him.” The second child was passed to a further colleague.

Mr Amoll, 28, said he and other performers with Zippos circus were on tour and had put up a tent in Elgin before travelling to Aberdeen to see the Ladyboys of Bangkok and the Moscow Circus before heading back for the Moray town.

He said they came across a collision involving a Nissan and a van and others had already stopped at the scene. He went to the white minibus to the driver’s side and saw the driver.

“He said my family is in the back. Please help them. I tried to open the door but it was jammed,” said Mr Amoll.

He said he went round the back of the vehicle and could hear a child scream and he tried to break a window with his hands before retrieving the sledgehammer from the circus personnel’s own vehicle.

He said emergency services arrived as efforts were made to open a door on the Nissan.

He was giving evidence at the trial of Alfredo Ciociola, 50, who has denied causing the deaths of five people, including his son Lorenzo, four, on July 26 in 2018 by driving dangerously.

It is alleged that on the A96 road near Inveramsay Bridge, Pitcaple, in Aberdeenshire, and on the Huntly to Keith road near to the Drummuir junction, Keith, Morayshire, he failed to proper attention to the road ahead, fell asleep and repeatedly braked and drove onto the opposing carriageway and collided with a Nissan SUV driven by Morag Smith.

Three passengers in her vehicle, Audrey Appleby, Edward Reid and Evalyn Collie died. A passenger in the Fiat Talento driven by Ciociola, Frances Saliba, also died along with Lorenzo Ciociola.   

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that Ms Smith, 44, has no recollection of the crash and her first memory after the collision is of waking up in hospital with her family at the bottom of the bed.

The former offshore worker said she had driven her friends to Elgin to take part in line dancing before starting out on the return journey to Aberchirder, in Aberdeenshire.

She told advocate depute Derick Nelson that she could not recall coming to the Drummuir junction but remembered later waking up in hospital. Ms Smith said she was later told that the three passengers in her car had died.

Ms Smith said she was subsequently medically retired and still experiences pain after sustaining injuries in the crash.

The trial before Lord Mulholland continues.