Neighbours tell of desperate bid to save school crash driver

SPROUGHTON: Neighbours made a desperate bid to save a parish councillor who had fallen ill at the wheel and crashed outside a primary school.

Despite their best efforts, Richard Searle sadly died in hospital on Sunday.

Mr Searle is believed to have suffered a heart attack at the wheel of his Volvo as he drove along Church Lane, Sproughton, at around 9.40am on Thursday.

His car smashed into parked cars and then ploughed into the fence surrounding the playground of the village primary school.

Shocked neighbours rushed out to rescue Mr Searle, aged around 70 and of Samford Place, Sproughton.

Karen Howard, who lives opposite the school, said: “I heard the bang and just ran out. The car had hit a couple of others and smashed into the school gardens. He must have still had his foot on the accelerator because the wheels were spinning and the car was filling up with smoke.

“Unfortunately all the doors were locked so we couldn’t get into the car. A neighbour got a hammer and eventually we smashed the window and switched the engine off.”

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She started to perform CPR along with a nurse, whose own car had been hit during the crash.

Another neighbour added: “It happened at 9.41am exactly. If it were an hour earlier it would have been just as the school children were going in. It has left everyone very shaken.”

Mr Searle, who was a father, was taken to the Norwich and Norfolk Hospital but sadly died on Sunday.

Karen Read, head teacher at the primary school, said: “Everyone at Sproughton Primary is very sad to hear that Mr Searle did not survive his heart attack.

“His wife was a midday supervisor at the school until her sudden and unexpected death two years ago, and is remembered fondly by the staff and children that knew her.”

A neighbour of Mr Searle said: “He did anything for anyone. He was a qualified plumber and electrician – you only had to ask and he would lend a hand.

“He was a perfect gentleman. A wonderful man and a good servant to Sproughton.”

n Would you like to pay tribute to Mr Searle? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.