Teacher tells of escape from fatal lorry crash

The HGV driver was killed. Pic: Joey Kelly
The HGV driver was killed. Pic: Joey Kelly
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A HIGH school teacher has told of his miraculous escape after a lorry toppled over in strong winds and crashed on top of his car.

Jonathan Campbell, 44, let go of the steering wheel and threw himself across the passenger seat of his Fiat Punto as the articulated lorry careered towards him on December 5 last year.

The biology teacher at Whitburn Academy said his actions in the collision saved him from “serious injury”. The driver of the lorry, Robert Dellow from Suffolk, died in the crash.

Mr Campbell had been driving along the A801 near Bathgate when the lorry began wobbling after the side curtains on its trailer acted like a sail in 100mph winds.

He said the lorry toppled “like slow motion”.

“My eye was purely on the wagon of the lorry because it wobbled,” he told a Fatal Accident Inquiry yesterday. “I thought ‘Is that going to tip or is it going to go back down?’

“It just tipped, then there was that realisation that it was going to land on me.”

He said the last thing he remembered was a crushing noise and the glass of his car windows coming in.

“The wagon continued to skid over the top of me then came to a halt. I looked up and saw the curtains on top of me. Then I realised there was a white BMW next to me and I’d be able to crawl out through that person’s car.”

He said he escaped with cuts and bruises but was still suffering hearing difficulties from a perforated eardrum and psychological trauma.

Mr Campbell said he went to the front of the truck and saw Mr Dellow in his cab with the windscreen missing. “I was in shock,” he said. “My motivation in going was to say to the driver: ‘We’re alive. You’ve not killed us. Just hang on’.”

One of the other motorists tried to take Mr Dellow’s pulse but was unable to find one. The lorry driver “twitched once” and they realised he had died.

The inquiry heard Mr Dellow wasn’t wearing a seat belt because he’d been injured previously after his lorry went off the road and he was left hanging from the seat belt point.

The 54-year-old died from head, neck and chest wounds after his lorry toppled over, crushing two cars. The drivers of four other cars involved all escaped serious injury.

Sheriff Susan Craig will deliver her findings later.