Witnesses tell of crash drama

A TRIO of Ipswich men today told how they watched in disbelief as a van dodged traffic driving the wrong way down the A12 before smashing head-on into a people carrier.

ONLOOKERS today told how they watched in disbelief as a van dodged traffic while driving the wrong way down the A12 before smashing into a people carrier.

Gavin Brookes, Alan Woods and Brook Francis were travelling to work in Bermondsey when they noticed a white Mercedes van driving parallel with them, but in the opposite carriageway at Capel St Mary.

After several near misses, the van ploughed into a Volkswagen Touran which had pulled out into the fast lane. The crash initially sparked fears of a tragedy among the three men.

Today, Mr Brookes, of Fitzwilliam Close, Chantry, Ipswich, described the episode, which occurred shortly before 5.30am on Friday, as “unbelievable”.

He and his workmates said they saw the van driver come out on to the A12 from the entrance to the Little Chef next to the Jet Garage at Capel St Mary.

“I saw him pull out on to the A12 and thought 'hang on a minute, this is not right',” Mr Brookes said. “It was obvious he was going to hit something. I couldn't believe it - we all watched as lorries and cars were swerving out of his way.

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“The people carrier was pulling out to get into the fast lane and then the two vehicles collided and they spun round and round. The car's windows shattered and the airbag popped out.

“We pulled over and Alan and Brook put their high visibility jackets on and went to help, while I called the police.”

The 26-year-old Colchester man driving the van was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving nearly two hours after the crash after a helicopter from RAF Wattisham was scrambled to find him. He has since been released on bail.

Mr Brookes, who works with Mr Woods, of Parnell Close, Ipswich, and Mr Francis, of Downing Close, Ipswich, for CCS Jeweltone Rope Access, said there was a lot of traffic on the road for the time of day. He estimated the van was travelling at speeds approaching 70mph before the impact. He said the van driver appeared “dazed” after the crash.

He added: “He was so lucky a lorry didn't him, it could have been unthinkable. There could easily have been a pile-up. When we saw the crash, our first reaction was 'oh god, someone has died'.

“You don't expect things like this. I have been using that road for ten years and I have never seen anything like it.”

Mr Francis added: “The driver of the car had blood running down his face and was covered in glass. He was very shocked.”

The men set up diversions to prevent another accident from occurring, before police arrived to close the carriageway.

The driver of the Volkswagen, a 44-year-old man from Essex, was taken to Ipswich Hospital for treatment to facial and head injuries.

If you witnessed the incident telephone Suffolk police on 01473 613500.

Do you know the driver of the VW Touran? Call the Evening Star newsdesk on 01473 324788 or e-mail starnews@eveningstar.co.uk

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