Rescuer relives horror of lorry smash

PUBLISHED: 00:20 14 June 2005 | UPDATED: 05:56 02 March 2010

HE RISKED his life dragging a man from a blazing lorry – but today Ken Buxton claimed "I'm no hero."

Still recovering from the shock of the drama, Mr Buxton has today told of his desperate battle to save the driver trapped in his cab following a horror crash on the A14 on Friday.

HE RISKED his life dragging a man from a blazing lorry – but today Ken Buxton claimed "I'm no hero."

Still recovering from the shock of the drama, Mr Buxton has today told of his desperate battle to save the driver trapped in his cab following a horror crash on the A14 on Friday.

As the driver begged for help inside his vehicle, Mr Buxton and another lorry driver did not think twice before rushing into the flames to drag him free in a dramatic rescue.

Today Mr Buxton of London Road, Ipswich wants to thank his mystery co-rescuer to whom he believes he owes his life.

Together, amid the towering flames, searing heat and disappearing oxygen, they wrestled to pull the driver to safety.

The catastrophe struck when, as reported in the Star, a collision took place on the A14 at Sproughton between a lorry and a Vauxhall Corsa at around 5.15am.

Ten minutes later on the other side of the road there was another collision between two other lorries and one burst into flames with the driver trapped inside.

At the time, registered first aider Ken Buxton, who had been on his way home from work as a security officer for Eagle Freight Terminal Ltd in Great Blakenham, was helping at the scene of the first collision.

Mr Buxton, 59, who has stopped to help at around seven A14 accidents over the past five years, said that when the second collision happened the place shook, there was an explosion and the articulated lorry carrying hospital food went up in flames.

He said: "The initial flames were 15ft to 20ft high. Flames were shooting out and explosions were going off. There was a lot of hysteria and panic. People were screaming and shouting."

But Mr Buxton, who has diabetes, heart trouble and the onset of motor neurone disease, described how he crossed the barrier and went to the driver's aid.

He said: "I got to the lorry and another lorry driver came across as well. He tried to open the driver's door but was forced back by the flames.

"I went round to the driver's door as well, but it wouldn't open. I bent the top of the door back.

"The driver was inside calling out, 'Please don't leave me or I am going to die.' I said, 'There is no way I am leaving you mate.'

"There was a large explosion and there was an orange-red ball of flames coming down towards me. 'That's it,' I thought, 'I am gone.' I huddled down but luckily it went down over the trees.

"I could hardly breathe. There was no oxygen and I was gasping. The driver was still screaming. He wanted me to get him out. It was all on fire inside his cab.

"There was another explosion and it blasted me and the guy helping me about 8ft to 10ft back.

"The people on the other side of the dual carriageway were screaming at us to get out and that we were going to die.

"Then we saw the driver getting himself out the windscreen. He was on fire. I looked at the man helping me and he looked at me. He said 'Come on' and we went back into the flames.

"We got hold of his arms and pulled him. We were both on our knees."

The pair managed to drag the driver back to the central reservation, grabbed gravel to put out the flames and then dragged him along the carriageway for around 10ft to get him out of danger.

Mr Buxton said a paramedic and another man helped them pull the driver further away.

He said: "I collapsed over the barrier and somebody cleaned my airways and put an oxygen mask on me. I went back to the fire zone to see if the driver was all right and he gave me the thumbs up.

"I went near the barrier and collapsed again and they gave me oxygen – I think it was an Army sergeant. Somebody got me a drink."

Mr Buxton, who was taken to Ipswich Hospital, said his hair and mouth was burned and that he looked as if he had been in the sun too long. His shoes and yellow warning coat had melted

His wife Lynne only found out what he had done when the police came to visit him.

Mr Buxton said: "We couldn't leave the man there. You don't think about things like that. He needed help and that was it.

"The guy who helped me – I don't know his name – is a hero. If it wasn't for him, I would be dead. There was no way I was going to leave that driver and there was nobody else to help."

Mr Buxton wants thank you to the people who helped the pair after they had pulled the driver out of his cab and, above all, to his mystery co-rescuer.

He said: "I would like them to come forward so I can say thank you."

Were you the mystery man who helped Ken Buxton rescue the lorry driver? Or were you one of the other people who assisted the pair? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to

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