Wednesday 8th August 2001
The waiting is over for the DNA testing on the body recovered by the Bluebird Project back in May. It's conclusive, it's definitely Donald. Of course, we knew this much already but it's very gratifying to hear it from the Coroners office.
The Coroner, Mr. Ian Smith, will be opening an inquest at the end of this week. This will involve a short procedure, about 15 / 20 minutes where the identity of the deceased will be established and not much more. It will take several weeks to complete the job as all the evidence will have to be gathered and examined. At some stage, members of the team will have to go to the court to give evidence but at least now, Donald can begin his final journey to his last resting place. The Coroner, Mr. Ian Smith, will be opening an inquest at the end of this week.
10th August 2001
Well, it's official. Today the Coroner Mr. Ian Smith announced officially that the remains recovered back in May are those of Donald Campbell. There was never any doubt amongst the team and those close to the event but it's still good to hear it from the voice of officialdom.
I wasn't at the opening of the inquest, in a discussion with Ian Smith earlier in the week I was informed that the opening would only be a 15 - 20 minute affair to state that the deceased was indeed the person that we thought it was. There is a great deal more to do in terms of completing the inquest and at some stage the evidence gathered by the Bluebird Project team will have to be heard so providing that it's OK with the Coroner, we should be able to post some first hand accounts of the goings on within the Coroners court.
There's been no more word on the legal stuff, it seems that the wheels of the British legal machine are turning at their usual speed, at this rate we could put Bluebird back in the lake and do it all again next year.
Tuesday 14th August 2001
We have a date for the burial. It's not a funeral, funerals are sad occasions for people who died yesterday. All the grieving for Donald was done 34 years ago so he's going to be buried and we are all going to celebrate his life and the great bloke that he was.
Gina has got a nice plot for him in the cemetery at Coniston and the service will be held in the village church. It's only a small church so don't turn up and expect to get in unless you've got the right paperwork but the goings on inside will be relayed to the outside by some means, TV monitors, big screen or whatever. It is all happening at 1.00pm on Wednesday 12th September.
The coffin is being carried by Donald's three nephews on one side and the three divers (Beans, me and Carl) who recovered his body, on the other side. I can speak not only for myself but also for the other two guys when I say that we are deeply honored. Rumor has it that the RAF are going to do a flypast and there will doubtless be some prominent people there to say nothing of every press reporter, satellite van and photographer in creation. There is a wake in the afternoon but I'm not sure of the details and then we'll most likely end up back in the Sun until closing time. Donald should get a tremendous send off.
Thursday 16th August 2001
I received a rather disturbing letter in the post today, it was written by one of Donald's associates from his record attempts and it suggested that by detailing our findings from the front engine mount failure, we were in some way suggesting that there was blame to be apportioned amongst those who worked on the boat.
The offending piece is a diary entry from the 6th of July 2001 which sets out the facts as we know them. As with every other aspect of the project, these findings have been researched out of sight with the best experts we could find. Only the final paragraph is speculation and it consists entirely of my own thoughts based on what we know to be true. However it is not, and has never been our intention to upset anyone. Making these facts public was merely an attempt to make new information available to the thousands of interested people who look at the website. It was suggested that not only was blame being meted out to innocent individuals but that some of these people were no longer around to defend themselves. Assuming that the boat was in perfect working order, properly prepared, operating within its design envelope and that no failure occurred, then the only person left to blame is Donald and he's not here to defend himself either. There is no one to blame, doubtless everyone involved gave their best and even if the failed engine mount was a contributing factor, it was still an accident. What if we'd discovered something absolutely conclusive? Would it have been proper to post it on the website in the knowledge that it would almost certainly be associated with some member of Donald's team? Or would it be better to cover it up and lose the knowledge for all time? It's sometimes difficult to carry the weight of responsibility and do the right thing. I would like however, to apologise for any upset that this may have caused and I would like to assure anyone reading it that it does, in no way, set out to suggest that there is any blame involved.
Bill Smith. (Bluebird Project Leader)