A policeman who looked after the body of a little girl who fell from the airliner blown up over Lockerbie in 1988 has discovered her identity 30 years on from the tragedy.
Colin Dorrance was a young police officer on the night when 259 passengers and crew were killed by a terrorist bomb which blew up a Boeing 747 over Scotland. Eleven residents of the town were also killed by falling debris.
Mr Dorrance has told how one of the first bodies to be brought to Lockerbie’s police station that night was that of 20 month-old toddler.
She had fallen from the sky outside the town and a farmer drove her body down to a makeshift mortuary on the front seat of his tractor. Mr Dorrance said it looked as if she was just sleeping.
He did not find out the identity of the youngster as the full scale of the tragedy unfolded that night and felt that prying into the details later in his career would be unprofessional.
But Mr Dorrance, now 48 and retired from the police, discovered last week that the baby was actually Bryony Owen, a little girl who was on board Pam Am flight 103 with her mother Yvonne. The pair were buried together.
A policeman who looked after the body of Bryony Owen (pictured with her mother Yvonne) following the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 only discovered her identity this week
Bryony Owen was killed with her mother Yvonne (both pictured) when terrorists blew up Pam Am flight 103 over Lockerbie
Colin Dorrance was a young policeman on duty in Lockerbie on the night of the bombing. He is now taking part in a cycle to Syracuse, to where some of the victims were flying
Mr Dorrance was helping a family of another victim look around the town where their relatives died when they visited the farm where the little girl’s body was found.
He told the BBC: ‘The farmer was there and it was his father who’d brought the child to the town hall.
‘He said it was a child by the name of Bryony Owen who was 20 months old and it had affected his father very badly over the years.’
Social worker Ms Owen, 29, was flying to New York to meet her American fiance Seth Friedman to prepare for their wedding early in the new year.
Pregnant with her second child, she stepped on to the flight at Heathrow with her 20-month-old daughter Bryony.
Her mother Betty Thomas, from Carmarthen in Wales, later said: ‘She had everything to look forward to. She had met the love of her life and was about to spend Christmas with him. She was so excited.’
All 259 passengers were killed when terrorists blew up the Boeing 747. Eleven died in the town
Mr Dorrance said a farmer brought little Bryony’s body down to the police station after the plane was brought down
Mr Dorrance is now among those undertaking a 3,238 mile journey to mark the approaching 30th anniversary of the bombing.
Thirty-five of the victims were students at Syracuse University in the US, who were travelling home for the Christmas holidays.
Three decades on from the tragedy the Cycle To Syracuse, in which Mr Dorrance is taking part, aims to complete the journey on behalf of those who could not.
Other members of the group include David Whalley, who led the RAF search and rescue team on the night, and Paul Rae, who was an 18-year-old Lockerbie resident in 1988 and volunteered to help search the hills that night.
The other two in the group are David Walpole who was a bank manager in Dumfries in 1988 and is now a paramedic in the Lockerbie/Annan area and Brian Asher, the head teacher at Lockerbie Academy.
LOCKERBIE BOMBING: THE TERROR ATTACK WHICH KILLED 270
The Lockerbie bombing took place on December 21, 1988, when Pan Am Flight 103 was blown out of the sky.
The New York-bound Boeing 747, named Maid of the Seas, was passing five miles above the Scottish town when the explosion tore it apart.
When first reports of a crash came through, many assumed it was a low-flying military training flight which had come to harm.
Flight 103 went down three minutes after 7pm, about half an hour after take-off from Heathrow, as it passed over the town heading out to the west.
The terrible scene in the town after the plane crashed into residential streets in 1988
The flight was running slightly late and should already have been out over the Atlantic en route to New York.
The cockpit section fell to earth at Tundergarth, about five miles out of town, landing in a field in rolling countryside within yards of a country church and graveyard.
A fuselage section came down on streets in Rosebank, on the northern edge of the town.
Meanwhile, the fuel-laden wing section came down on the Sherwood area on the western edge of Lockerbie, adjoining the A74 road, now a motorway. As it came down it exploded in a fireball made worse by ruptured gas mains.
It was in this area, Sherwood Crescent, where 11 Lockerbie residents were killed. No trace was ever found of some of the victims, who were vaporised in the fireball.
Libyan intelligence officer Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted in 2001. He was jailed for 27 years
Lockerbie’s Town Hall and its ice-rink were pressed into service as temporary mortuaries and within 24 hours of the disaster, a total of 1,000 police had been drafted in, along with 500 military helpers.
In the initial stages, 40 ambulances and 115 personnel attended at Lockerbie. They stood down shortly afterwards due to the minimal number of casualties, with all those involved in the tragedy either dead or having suffered minor injuries.
The bodies and wreckage had come down in two main flight corridors, one of which included the Kielder forest in Northumbria, the most densely-wooded part of the UK.
At the height the plane had been flying, winds were more than 100 knots. Some of the lighter pieces of wreckage were found miles away.
On the night of the crash, police made an immediate policy decision to treat the disaster as a criminal investigation.
Public confirmation of what had been suspected from the outset came on December 28, when investigators announced that traces of high explosive had been found and the plane had been brought down by a bomb.
A later fatal accident inquiry was to determine that the bomb was in a Toshiba radio-cassette player in a Samsonite suitcase which ‘probably’ joined the flight at Frankfurt in Germany.
Of the 259 passengers and crew – 150 men and 109 women – killed, 188 were Americans and 33 were British. The others came from 19 other countries including France, Germany, India, Sweden, Australia and Japan.
Al-Megrahi was controversially allowed to return to Libya before his deatg
The 11 people who were killed on the ground – four males and seven females – were all British.
Libyan intelligence officer Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of the atrocity. He was jailed for 27 years but died of prostate cancer aged 60 in 2012 after being released on compassionate grounds in 2009.
Earlier this year, a review of his conviction was announced. Some suspect he may have been made a scapegoat and that other Middle Eastern countries were involved in the terror attack.