A court date has been set for the Fatal Accident Inquiry into the deaths of two people on the M9 seven years ago.
Lamara Bell, 25, and her partner John Yuill, 28, died after their car left the motorway near Stirling on July 5, 2015.
Despite a call to Police Scotland, it took three days for the force to respond.
When officers arrived, Mr Yuill was found dead at the scene, while Ms Bell died four days later in hospital.
In December 2021, the Crown formally instructed that there should be an FAI held to examine the full circumstances of their deaths.
The family of Ms Bell were awarded more than £1m in damages after agreeing a civil settlement with Police Scotland.
It has now been confirmed that a preliminary hearing will take place at Stirling Sheriff Court on December 16 this year.
Preliminary hearings are used to identify those who are able to participate in the inquiry, to consider the scope of the inquiry and the information likely to be presented.
A number of preliminary hearings may be instructed by the court, while the Sheriff will set the timetable for the FAI to take place.
The purpose of FAIs include determining causes of death and to establish what reasonable precautions could have been taken to minimise the risk of future deaths in similar circumstances.
Procurator Fiscal Katrina Parkes, head of the COPFS’ Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit, explained that the families of Ms Bell and Mr Yuill will be kept informed of significant developments as court proceedings continue.
“The Lord Advocate considers that these deaths occurred in circumstances giving rising to significant public concern,” she said.
“This has been a complex, detailed and lengthy investigation.
“The lodging of the First Notice enables FAI proceedings to commence under the direction of the Sheriff.
“The families and their legal representatives will continue to be kept informed of significant developments as court proceedings progress.”
Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Jamie Greene said it is “completely unacceptable” for families to have to wait years before receiving the closure that they deserve.
“While it is welcome a date has finally been set for this preliminary hearing, it is appalling these families have had to wait more than seven years for this process to even begin,” said Greene.
“They have endured years of grief and pain and it may still be years before they receive the closure they deserve.
“This is completely unacceptable. Delays like this are typical of the justice system on the SNP’s watch, which overlooks the needs of victims and families at every turn.
“Tragedies like the deaths of Lamara Bell and John Yuill should never occur again, but emergency call response times are consistently rising which runs the risk of that sadly happening.
“My Victims Law Bill includes proposals to end chronic FAI delays like the ones these families have suffered and this tortuous state of affairs for bereaved families.”