Body recovered by police searching for man trapped in vehicle amid Babet floods

Scotland was hit by severe weather (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Scotland was hit by severe weather (Andrew Milligan/PA)

A body has been recovered by police searching for a man who was trapped in a vehicle in floodwater during Storm Babet.

A search was launched after the man was reported missing in Marykirk, Aberdeenshire, on Friday.

Police Scotland said on Monday that the body of a man and a vehicle have been recovered.

The force said: “Formal identification is still to take place, however next of kin have been informed.”

John Gillan
John Gillan died after a tree hit his van (Police Scotland/PA)

It takes the number of lives claimed by the storm to seven across the UK.

Earlier on Monday tributes were paid to a “loving” family man who died after a tree struck his van during Storm Babet.

John Gillan, 56, was driving on the B9127 at Whigstreet near Forfar, Angus, when the incident happened at about 5.05pm on Thursday.

Mr Gillan, from Arbroath, was pronounced dead at the scene.

In a statement released through Police Scotland, his family said: “We are devastated by the loss of John and the circumstances in which he died.

“John was a loving husband to Gaynor, dad to Marc, father-in-law to Natasha, and granddad to Reygan and Finley.

“He was also a loving son to John and Moira, brother to Wendy and a loving uncle, son-in-law and brother-in-law. John will be deeply missed by us all.

“Thank you to family and friends for supporting us through this indescribably difficult time.

“We’d like to request that our privacy be respected whilst we grieve for John.”

Police said there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death and a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

Brechin in Angus was hit hardest by the storm last week, as the River South Esk burst its banks and flooded dozens of homes.

Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf has said there will be a “long road to recovery” for those impacted by Storm Babet as he visited the town on Monday.

Autumn weather October 23rd 2023
Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf visited River Street in Brechin (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Mr Yousaf said the local council would receive the funding it needs to recover but warned that the clean-up after the flooding was likely to take time.

The First Minister told journalists he would have conversations with the UK Government about funding if required, saying: “We haven’t got to that stage yet, I think it’s important that the assessments are done in terms of the scale of devastation, what the impacts will be and what funding is required.

“Then, of course, if necessary, we’ll have those conversations with the UK Government.”

He added: “I’m very keen to give an assurance to residents here that I’ve spoken to, to businesses here that I’ve spoken to, the government is there to support them as much as we can during the long road to recovery.”

Residents living in River Street were first alerted to the danger of the body of water overtopping local flood defences on Thursday as heavy downpours caused levels to rise rapidly.

Person being evacuated from their homes in a kayak
People had to be rescued from their homes as a result of the flooding (Andrew Milligan/PA)

In the early hours of Friday, emergency services stepped up efforts to move people out of their properties as water started to spill over the sides of the defences and engulf the street.

Respite centres were set up in the town for individuals and families forced to leave their homes and residents only started returning in large numbers on Sunday to assess the damage.

The First Minister’s visit comes after a councillor said some people in Brechin could be out of their homes permanently.

Conservative councillor Gavin Nicol, who represents the Brechin and Edzell ward on Angus Council, called for more funding from the Scottish Government, telling BBC Radio Scotland on Monday: “I can tell you the repercussions of the flooding will take months and years to resolve.

“Angus Council, unfortunately, does not have the resources to do the job, it needs to protect the residents.

“We really need finance from the Scottish Government in order to protect our residents, to rehome them.

“Some will be out for months, if not permanently.”

Flooded street in Brechin
Flood defences in the town failed as a result of Storm Babet (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Others who died during the storm included Wendy Taylor, 57, who was swept into the Water of Lee at Glen Esk at around 1.45pm on Thursday.

She was described in a tribute from her family as a beloved wife, mother and grandmother and “a ray of sunshine” to everyone who knew her.

Two women died after a five-vehicle crash on the M4 on Friday morning which is believed to have been weather-related.

On Friday, a man in his 60s died after getting caught in fast-flowing floodwater in the town of Cleobury Mortimer in Shropshire and on Saturday 83-year-old Maureen Gilbert was found dead after her home was hit by flooding in Derbyshire.