Officer recognised for supreme courage

HAILED for his supreme courage, traffic cop Stewart McIlroy today told how he saved three people by pulling them from two blazing cars.The 42-year-old, who is based at Martlesham police headquarters, is now to receive a rarely-awarded medal from the Royal Humane Society for his heroism.

HAILED for his supreme courage, traffic cop Stewart McIlroy today told how he saved three people by pulling them from two blazing cars.

The 42-year-old, who is based at Martlesham police headquarters, is now to receive a rarely-awarded medal from the Royal Humane Society for his heroism.

For the first time publicly, Pc McIlroy spoke about the events which have led him to be given one of the country's top life-saving honours after a car pursuit ended up with a crash that turned two vehicles into fireballs at Nacton.

The drama began when Pc McIlroy pulled over a Vauxhall Calibra driven by James Ratcliffe near the road to Nacton village just after it came off the slip road from the A14.


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As the officer went to talk to Ratcliffe, he set off again at high speed through the village driving around 50-60mph.

When the 23-year-old came to the junction of the A1156 - the old main road to Felixstowe - he crossed on to the right hand side of the road.

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As he turned right to head back towards the A14, his car was hit side-on by a Seat Alhambra driven by 59-year-old Robert Parker, which ignited both cars.

Pc McIlroy said: “I noticed a puff of flame out of the Seat. Both cars were on fire and had smoke coming out of them. “I looked across to Mr Ratcliffe's car and could see he was seemingly unconscious in the driver's seat.

“I was unaware he had a female passenger. I looked at the other car and saw smoke pouring out. I went to the driver's side and the man was conscious, but quite shocked and stunned. He needed to be removed fairly sharpish. I reached in and undid his seatbelt and took his arm and said ' you've got to get out of the car now'.”

By this time other motorists had stopped to help, including two occupants of the coroner's ambulance, Terence Mizen, of Birch Avenue, Bacton, and David Alberto, of Lindbergh Road in east Ipswich.

While people at the scene looked after Mr Parker, Pc McIlroy went to help Ratcliffe.

Pc McIlroy said: “I could see Mr Ratcliffe's door would not open. It had taken all the impact. I ran to the near-side of the car to open the door and saw his girlfriend. She was unconscious and non-responsive. I took her seat belt off and lifted her from the car. I could see she had an injury to her knee. I think she had shattered her kneecap.

“Mr Mizen was at the driver's side door. By that time smoke was pouring out. The car was starting to burn. I reached down to Mr Ratcliffe's feet which were tangled in the pedals, freed them and pushed him out of the driver's door window. He was extracted by Mr Mizen.

“There was heat and smoke inside the car. The fire in the Calibra was starting to take hold in the engine compartment.

“Once Mr Ratcliffe was removed it erupted in flames pretty shortly afterwards.

“If Mr Ratcliffe and his girlfriend had not been removed from the car they would probably have burned to death.”

Mr Mizen and Mr Alberto have also been awarded Royal Humane Society testimonials for their parts in the rescue.

The society's secretary, Dick Wilkinson, said: “It takes supreme courage to approach a burning vehicle, which could explode at any second. Yet Pc McIlroy, Mr Mizen and Mr Alberto all risked their lives in order to make sure nobody perished.

“But for their efforts these three people could be dead today.”

n. What do you think of the award? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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