A2 carnage

PUBLISHED: 18:07 14 January 2009 | UPDATED: 16:00 25 August 2010

HERO: Tony Pearce.

HERO: Tony Pearce.

A DRIVER who helped pull victims from the wreckage of a horrific five vehicle pile-up has revealed how he rushed to the aid of a dying motorist.

A DRIVER who helped pull victims from the wreckage of a horrific five vehicle pile-up has revealed how he rushed to the aid of a dying motorist.

Tony Pearce, 48, was driving behind an articulated lorry as it ploughed across the central reservation into the path of oncoming traffic. He was driving home from London after a night shift at 10.30am on the A2 near the Darenth Interchange on Monday when he saw debris flying up on the opposite side.

Hundreds of motorists from the Bexley and Eltham borough were caught up in the gridlock.

A silver Lexus was catapulted up the embankment and ended up next to the overturned lorry in a ploughed field as other mangled vehicles were sent spinning across the tarmac.

The father-of-three stopped on the hard shoulder, ran across the carriageway and jumped over the central reservation to help the Lexus driver.

Bus driver Mr Pearce said: "It looked like the car had been run over, I could see the driver he was about 30 or so and covered in blood laying on the front seat, not moving. I realised he was dead, the sight was the most horrendous thing I've ever seen. There was nothing I could do for him so I went over to the crushed lorry cab. The windscreen was out. I reached in and wound down the passenger window and me and this other guy pulled the driver out. He had a cut face but was able to stand up, he was about 50-years-old.

"I went over to an Astra van, there was a young lad in there who had belly pains but he was conscious."

He said a Peugeot van - from Gravesend-based firm Transportation Repair Service Ltd - had been completely ripped apart like a 'tin can' and the driver, in his 50s was in a state of shock. Mr Pearce, from Sittingbourne, said: "I spoke to him and he said he had driven for 40 years and never been involved in an accident before, he was totally stunned."

Witnesses at the scene claimed the articulated C&G Demolition lorry swerved after being 'cut up' by another vehicle, causing the lorry to wobble violently and career across the central reservation.

The grandfather of three, who works shifts in Plumstead said: "It was a sobering thought driving the buss the next day, I realised what could happen, the damage."

Ron Searles, 57, owner of Swan Valley Haulage Limited, in Days Farm, Garden Place, Dartford works just 200 metres from the crash scene. He talked of the "carnage" as emergency services raced to the scene. He said: "There was a huge bang, and I came out and saw the lorry on its side. In the moments after it happened, there were people walking around, looking really dazed. There were people everywhere, all over the road, some with blood on them. I even saw a woman crawling out from one of the cars that was on its roof. It was chaos, carnage."

Fire crews from Bexley and Dartford assisted Kent Police at the incident, removing the dead victim. A woman was also long-boarded by paramedics and taken to Darent Valley Hospital. Five other people, suffering from minor injuries, were also taken to hospital.

A worker for CET Medway, an engineering company based in Rochester, was driving the Astra van caught up in the horror smash.

His company car had its front end caved in and was left straddling two lanes facing the wrong way of the London-bound section. He was shaken up by the impact but escaped serious injury.

A spokesman for the company said: "One of our drivers sustained minor injuries and everyone is doing their jobs as normal. We are doing everything we can to help police with their enquiries."

Seconds after the crash motorists swerved around the wreckage as another witness said the sound of the horror smash was like a 'bomb going off'.

Steve Ridgers, 49, works at DA Coachworks, a car repairs workshop also in Days Farm.

He said: "I didn't know what it was at first. It was just like a big bang.

"I would say it was like thunder, almost as loud as a bomb going off. I came out of my workshop and saw the lorry on the bank. It looked bad, there were people all over the place, there were even cars driving past, avoiding the crash."

Thousands of drivers suffered delays to their journeys as the emergency services closed the road in both directions and worked to clear the scene. The coast-bound carriageway was reopened at 5pm, and the London bound carriage way reopened at about 1am on Tuesday morning.

Coast-bound traffic was directed off the A2 at the A2018 junction and drivers heading towards London were directed off the A2 at the M25.

Police are urging any witnesses who saw a red, articulated tipper lorry prior to, or during, the collision to come forward with information. Contact Kent Police on 01622 798538.

Serious injuries on the stretch of the A2 where this crash happened have more than doubled in the last two years, according to official figures.

Between the A2018 in Dartford and A227 near Gravesend eight people were seriously injured in 2005 rising to 19 in 2007. In 2005 there was only one fatality, already equalled in 2009 only a fortnight into the new year.

The stark trend affects another major trunk road in north Kent, the A20 from Crittal's Corner, Sidcup, to the M20 east of Swanley.

During 2006 and 2007 there were 13 serious injuries compared to just 5 for the three previous years.

A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: "The Highways Agency is working to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on its network.

"We have already made significant progress towards the Government's national 2010 KSI casualty reduction."

The horror crash ended a torrid three days for accidents on the A2 and M25.

A collision on Sunday at 4.20am between two articulated lorries near the Dartford Crossing in Essex saw one driver have a miraculous escape as he was smashed 8ft into his cab by the impact and had to be cut free.

It forced the closure of the approach for eight hours causing chaos on both sides of the crossing. The driver was rushed to Darent Valley Hopsital with serious leg injuries.

Later that morning on the A2 a five-car pile-up caused the Bean slip road to be closed for an hour while the road was cleared. The driver of a BMW was taken to Darent Valley with suspected neck injuries.

On Friday (9) at 5.40pm a child and the driver of a BMW were taken to Darent Valley Hospital after a crash on the Dartford tunnel slipway. Their injuries were not life threatening.

Where you involved in the A2 accident? Call the newsdesk on 01474 320753 or 0208 269 7015.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Bexley Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Bexley Times