Martin Willis, a Roads Policing Officer with West Yorkshire Police, went above and beyond the call of duty when he prevented an overturned van from falling off a bridge following a road traffic accident.
Willis, a 10-year veteran of the West Yorkshire force, received a call at approximately 5:47am local time reporting multiple collisions on the A1 motorway, according to a police statement. Willis was the first on the scene and encountered the precariously perched Iveco van which had crashed through the safety barrier.
1st on the scene of this collision on the #A1M this morning and faced with a vehicle balancing over the edge of a bridge with the driver trapped! After holding on to the vehicle to stop it swaying in the wind I can’t begin to desribe my relief when @WYFRS arrived on scene! pic.twitter.com/E8ilktlOl7
— Motorway Martin (@WYP_PCWILLIS) December 1, 2017
“I just saw this van on top of the bridge through the railings and contacted control to say, ‘I’ve got to stop here, this looks very serious.’ I walked on the hard shoulder to the incident and I as I did so a lorry driver, who was not involved in the incident, shouted across to say there was a chap upside down in the van,” said Willis, as cited in the police statement.
“Every time a lorry went by I could see the van sway and I just thought, ‘It’s right over the A64, if this van goes over it will kill the driver.’ Of course you’re also thinking, ‘Any minute now, something is going to come on the hard shoulder and hit me!’”
“I told the victim not to panic and said, ‘We’re going to get you out of there, whatever you do, don’t move.’ I then grabbed hold of the rear wheel and pulled inwards which helped to keep the van balanced. I was there for a good 15 minutes, I think.”
The sole occupant of the vehicle sustained serious injuries to his legs, preventing him from escaping the van and leaving him hanging upside down in the cab. Officers from the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service arrived shortly afterwards and used a winch to stabilize the van and rescue the 22-year-old driver, who was subsequently taken to Leeds General Infirmary for treatment.
“It was quite a scary situation, but this is the reality of the job we do,” Willis said. “Sometimes you do have to take risks and if you need to help someone, you need to help them.”