Horror motorway crash driver thanks firefighters and Halifax officer who saved his life

Halifax-bsaed PC Martin Willis - known as Motorway Martin - was first on the scene and desperately gripped onto the rear of the vehicle to stop it from plummeting onto the M62 (SWNS)
Halifax-bsaed PC Martin Willis - known as Motorway Martin - was first on the scene and desperately gripped onto the rear of the vehicle to stop it from plummeting onto the M62 (SWNS)

A man has relived the terrifying moment he was left trapped upside down in an overturned van teetering on the edge of a motorway bridge -- and told how he is "lucky to be alive".

Thomas Dulson, 24, lost control of his four-tonne Iveco van before colliding with a barrier and flipping it onto its roof after hitting a patch of black ice in December last year.

The delivery driver was fully conscious as he hung upside down in the driver's seat as it dangled 30ft over the edge of the bridge above the A64 near Leeds in freezing temperatures.

Halifax-bsaed PC Martin Willis - known as Motorway Martin - was first on the scene and desperately gripped onto the rear axle for a staggering 15 minutes to stop it from plummeting below.

It was long enough for emergency services to arrive who then rushed Thomas to Leeds General Infirmary following a two-hour struggle to free him.

Thomas spent 19 days in hospital where he underwent treatment for two broken legs -- and still has a scar on his right leg.

He travelled to Garforth Fire Station to be reunited with fire crews who helped save his life during the dramatic rescue.

Reliving the moment, he said: "I remember being in the middle lane going to overtake someone, the steering wheel just snapped out of my hands.

"I careered across all three lanes, I don't know how I didn't hit anyone else, it was pot luck I guess.

"I was stuck in the van for two hours. I remember talking to the fire crews and thinking they are going to get me out.

"Without their actions I may not be here, I may not be walking, I can't praise them enough for what they did for me.

"They kept me so calm talking me through everything and trying to make everything as easy as possible on me. I can't actually put into words how good they were.

"It's been a long road to recovery for me and I still feel nervous about the thought of getting back in a van, but I know things could have been much worse.

"I've wanted to come and see the crews for ages. A year on, and on the mend, feels like a good time. All I can say to them is thank you.

"I'm driving again but it's an automatic at the minute. I'm not driving a van yet, that will be phased back in.

"Looking back on it everything could have been so much different, I was extremely lucky the van landed where it did and impaled itself on the fence."

Thomas was travelling in the right-hand lane of the A1(M) at around 70mph in December 2017 when he hit a patch of black ice.

He lost control of his van and it veered across three lanes before colliding with a barrier and flipping onto its roof.

Emergency services were called and PC Willis clung onto the van to try and prevent it from toppling over the edge until firefighters arrived.

But he modest Halifax-based PC, who patrols the M62 from junction 22 to 27, told well-wishers at the time he was "just doing his job" despite the bitterly cold conditions.

Speaking last December, he said: "I just saw this van on top of the bridge through the railings and contacted control to say, 'I've got to stop here - this looks very serious'.

"I walked on the hard shoulder to the incident and as I did so a lorry driver, who was not involved in the incident, shouted across to say there was a chap upside down in the van.

"I told the victim not to panic and said 'we're going to get you out of there, whatever you do, don't move'.

"I then grabbed hold of the rear wheel and pulled inwards which helped to keep the van balanced. I was there for a good 15 minutes I think.

"Every time a lorry went by I could see the van sway and I just thought, 'It's right over the A64, if this van goes over it will kill the driver.' "Of course, you're also thinking 'any minute now, something is going to come on the hard shoulder and hit me.' "It was quite a scary situation but this is the reality of the job we do. Sometimes you do have to take risks and if you need to help someone, you need to help them."

Fire crews then had to devise a plan to release Thomas without making his serious injuries any worse.

Firefighters used specialist cutting equipment to tunnel through the side of the vehicle to get to Thomas.

Incident commander Phil Swallow, of Garforth Fire Station, crawled in and spoke to Thomas before a paramedic assessed his injuries.

In the past year, Mr Dulson has had five operations to try and reconstruct his legs.

Surgeons have inserted metal pins into the bones of his left leg to help it heal properly and he has undergone a skin graft.