Driver cheats death after lorry cab is torn apart

Lorry driver and crash survivor  Ron Norris from Ashington.'Picture by Jane Coltman
Lorry driver and crash survivor Ron Norris from Ashington.'Picture by Jane Coltman
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A lorry driver from Ashington has spoken for the first time of how he cheated death after colliding with the back of another lorry.

Ron Norris was left sitting in the wreckage of his mangled cab after half of it was torn away during the impact.

If I hadn’t have gone to the left, I would have died. It would have been a head-on collision

Ron Norris

The 53-year-old was just 20 minutes into his shift when the crash happened on the A14 near Girton in Cambridgeshire at 5.45am last Thursday.

Despite the early start, traffic on the A14 was busy, with Ron following another lorry at 30mph.

When the lorry in front moved into the middle lane, Ron followed as he assumed there was an obstruction in the inside lane but the first lorry suddenly stopped.

Ron swerved to the left, but could not avoid an impact and saw his cab ripped open on the corner of the trailer, just missing his head.

Speaking to the News Post Leader from his home in Ashington, he said: “I pulled to the left to try and get around him but I couldn’t avoid him.

“Because of the angle I was at and the skill of my driving, his container hit the top of the cab and ripped it in two.

“If I hadn’t have gone to the left, I would have died. It would have been a head-on collision.

“Sometimes people react and jump on the brakes but that would have caused the lorry to jack-knife. Because of my actions, I may have saved a few other people’s lives.”

After being cut free from the wreckage by crews from Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, Ron was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for scans and tests but released home with just cuts.

But he admits although there is nothing physically wrong, it may take a while to get back in a lorry’s cab.

Ron said: “I can’t thank the staff at the hospital enough for what they did to me.

“Physically I am okay, but when you hit the back of a truck and you are sitting there with half your truck missing and just got away with your life, it’s just mental issues I’ve got to get over.

“It’s going to take a while for me to get back into the seat. The police say it was a minor crash but it was a major one. It could have been avoided with less traffic on the roads.”

The crash – named the ‘Teddy Bear crash’ as one of the four lorries involved in total was carrying teddy bears – made national news as police are looking to prosecute up to 15 motorists travelling in the opposite way who took pictures of the crash scene while driving.

But Ron, who has been driving lorries for 30 years, is keen to highlight the dangers facing lorry drivers on the roads.

“Even on a clear day like that, there is still the potential for a series accident,” he said.

“The A14 leads to and from Felixstowe so there is lots of traffic on the road.

“There are more hazards on the roads and more traffic than there was 30 years ago.

“There are more regulations and rules, and more foreign drivers. The weight of haulage lorries carry has also increased from 30 tonnes to 44 tonnes, on average.

“Anyone in a car hit by a lorry now isn’t going to stand a chance.”