Injured trucker tells of dice with death

BACK home to a life he never thought he'd see again, trucker Bob Mortimer today spoke for the first time of the crash which left him inches from death.

BACK home to a life he never thought he'd see again, trucker Bob Mortimer today spoke for the first time of the crash which left him inches from death.

His voice trembled with emotion and pain as he recalled the moments when the cab of the lorry he was driving plunged 40ft down a railway embankment from the A137 at Lawford.

He managed to escape seconds before a freight train carrying hazardous chemicals sliced into it, leaving the spot where he had been sitting, a mangled wreck of twisted metal.

The 47-year-old, who lives in Charlottes, Washbrook, is still virtually bedridden after suffering a broken pelvis, which needed bone grafts to repair the damage.

He is still in severe pain, can hardly get out of bed, and is not allowed to stand for three months.

He said today: "I can't put any weight on my feet for three months, and then I've got to go back to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital for a check up after that. The surgeon told me I'm not allowed to lift anything for a year."

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But he added: "It's very nice to be home after lying in hospital for so long. I appreciate being home and alive."

He recalled the crash of July 1, and how passer-by Tony Woods from Springfield Avenue, Lawford rushed to his aid.

Mr Woods rolled Bob away from the train tracks, covered his head and prayed, as the screech of brakes heralded the approach of the train which slammed into the cab.

Bob said: "I remember when I got to the bottom (of the embankment), all the windows were smashed and I pulled myself out. I got to the embankment and started shouting for help.

"This bloke came running down. I was shouting 'Stop the trains' because I know a goods train comes past around 5.45am to 6am every day.

"He said 'It's too late, mate,' and chucked himself over me to protect me from any debris. I would like to thank him. It could have been a lot worse.

"I remember my boss' brother and boss coming down to see me.

"The next thing I knew, I was waking up in Colchester Hospital. I think somebody was looking after me that day."

The father-of-two said being back home was 'going to put a lot of pressure' on his wife Tracy, 34, and his mother-in-law Doreen Smart, who are relying on help from nurses and carers to attend to him.

Tracy said: "I am pleased to have him home, but I am quite worried that he's been sent home, because of the pain ands discomfort he is in. I feel he needs professional care and he's still very sore."

Bob added: "I would like to say thank you to everyone who has sent their best wishes, especially the boys at work (A&S Farms at Manningtree) and also my boss Andy Steward, and his mum and dad. My job is being kept open and I have a very good boss."

He said he had travelled that route countless times without trouble, and said: "I have gone across that bridge many, many times and it's just one of those things that happen."

Meanwhile crash barriers should be installed by the end of September at the railway bridge where two vehicles have now crashed onto the train track within a month.

After the latest incident on Friday night when a Mazda car left the A137 Harwich Road and landed on its roof on the railway line after crashing through a fence a man was arrested on suspicion of drink driving.

Yesterday it was revealed the safety measures should be in place by the end of September and that the speed limit on the road was being reviewed.

A spokesman for Essex County Council said: "Essex County Council is aware that a vehicle travelling from the direction of Colchester has crashed at Harwich Road bridge.

"The accident which happened on Friday has raised further concerns about the safety of the road and the ease at which vehicles can leave the highway and end up on the railway line.

"Within two weeks contractor May Gurney will present the county council with design options for barriers on both sides of the bridge.

"The site is particularly difficult due to the residential property next to the railway on both sides of the bridge but it is still anticipated the safety barriers will be installed before the end of September.

"A full investigation is also underway to review the road safety record of the A137.

"The level of warning signs, the speed limit and the condition of the road surface will be assessed to ensure that they are appropriate.

"Any necessary improvements will be implemented within the next six months."