Episode 16 Close Calls: On Camera


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Episode 16

The story of how two little girls dialled 999 and saved their mum after she fell from the loft, plus a trucker who came face to face with another lorry as he went round a bend.


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Transcript


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A close call. A moment of danger when life can hang in the balance.

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I could die here, this is really serious.

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A split second where the outcome could go either way.

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Right. Call 999 now.

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The difference between disaster and survival.

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You could see it on the faces of the crew how life-threatening this was.

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Why would you need to swim?

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Apparently they're supposed to still be on a boat.

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These are the people that have been there and lived to tell the tale.

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I thought she had died.

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It's a day they'll never forget.

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The day they had a close call.

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Today, on Close Calls...

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An emergency call handler tries

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to reassure two distraught little girls.

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GIRL SOBS

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Their mum has fallen from the loft.

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The 999 operator urges the children to find someone nearby to help.

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They rush next door.

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A neighbour takes over the call.

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And two best friends are climbing when one slips and plummets onto

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-the rocks below.

-For a split second,

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in my head, I was like, "Am I going down to him dead here?"

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Also today, a lorry driver's dashcam captures the moment another trucker

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comes round a blind bend...

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..on the same side of the road.

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Plymouth, Devon.

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A 999 operator takes a call from a distressed eight-year-old girl.

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Daisy's mum has fallen from the loft, hitting her head hard.

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She's unconscious and moaning in pain.

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We were all very scared.

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The beautiful port city of Plymouth in Devon is home to nurse Sarah,

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her husband Nick and their two daughters - Daisy, aged eight,

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and Esme, who's six.

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Daisy's quite sensible.

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She likes her rules.

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She likes to have a set order to do things.

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Esme is more of a free spirit.

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Boing!

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My little sister's six.

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She's sometimes a little bit annoying, but most of the time,

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-she's very nice.

-They're really good friends, yeah.

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They always want to be together.

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Playing games, cricket, swimming, body boarding,

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and just generally having a good time.

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But one summer morning in August,

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the girls' teamwork is put to the test.

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The family had just returned from a caravan holiday.

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We'd had a great week, it had been sunny all week, playing on a beach,

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playing cricket, out to the lake every night,

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eating fish and chips on the beach. Fantastic holiday.

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Dad Nick is at the gym,

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and sisters Daisy and Esme are watching TV in the lounge.

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Upstairs, mum Sarah is unpacking from the holiday.

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I had to empty all the suitcases,

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it was our first day back, and I'd done all the washing.

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And I looked at the clock and thought,

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"I have enough time to put the suitcases away in the loft.

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"I won't wait for Nick to do it

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"because he might not do it straightaway,"

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and I like things done straightaway.

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Keen to get cracking, Sarah pulls the loft ladder down

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onto the landing.

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We've got quite high ceilings, so it's quite a long ladder.

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But it is attached to the loft,

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so I felt it was quite safe to go up there.

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The suitcases are empty

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and Sarah successfully lifts them up the ladder.

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I do remember putting them down

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near to the loft hatch where they go, just to the side.

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And that's where I don't remember anything else after that.

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In a split second, she somehow loses her footing,

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and plunges eight feet to the bottom of the ladder,

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crashing onto the landing at the top of the stairs.

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Below in the lounge, Daisy and Esme hear a fall.

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We just heard a big bang.

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And we thought, "She's probably just dropped something.

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"Like, knocked off a photo frame."

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The girls rush upstairs to see what's happened.

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When you hear a bang, you think it's just something knocked off.

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And when we saw her on the floor,

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she'd obviously been the thing that made the bang.

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At the top of the stairs, the sisters find their mum

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sprawled on the floor groaning in pain.

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She was putting her head right near the banister and she kept on doing

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this - "Urgh," really loud.

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It wasn't nice to see what she was doing and I was worried

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that my sister was going to be very scared.

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Daisy goes to her mum's side.

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I checked, she was breathing and she didn't cut herself.

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But when she wasn't getting up, that's when I started to think,

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"What am I going to do now?"

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Daisy has the presence of mind to use her mother's mobile phone

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to call for help.

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I tried to call my dad, but because he was in the gym,

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he didn't have his phone out.

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So I decided to call 999.

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This is that 999 call.

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When I got the phone, I was so scared that I just cried.

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At the other end of the phone is emergency call handler Tracy.

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You never know what call you're going to take and

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total shock to have two little screaming children

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at the end of the phone,

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trying to calm them and find out what the situation was.

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But to get help to the girls, Tracy needs to know their exact location.

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Tracy must assess mum Sarah's injuries,

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but the girls are clearly distressed.

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One minute, they were calm and they were advising me what was going on.

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The next minute, there was screaming that was so high-pitched that...

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Obviously you could hear the trauma in their voices.

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I could hear the mum in the background, she was groaning.

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She was making like gurgling noises.

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I thought that something really, really serious

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had happened to Mummy.

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I was really scared that she'd injured herself badly

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and it would ruin part of our lives, like what we'd do again.

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Tracy wants to make sure the emergency services can reach Sarah

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and the girls quickly. She gives Daisy instructions.

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I wanted to make sure they knew

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which house they were attending, because time is paramount.

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So having the front door open,

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I made sure that my colleagues that were dealing with the police

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knew that it would be the house with the front door open.

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Anxious to calm the little girls,

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Tracy suggests they try and find help nearby.

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And she said to go and get our next-door neighbour.

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So I got our next-door neighbour.

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Next-door neighbour Annette

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is a family friend who has known the girls since they were born.

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I found Esme and Daisy in floods of tears, almost hysterical.

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They hadn't shoes or socks on their feet,

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so obviously had just run out from the house.

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The 999 call picks up Daisy's

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frantic explanation to her neighbour.

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THEY SCREAM AND SOB

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Annette rushes next door, as Tracy fills her in on the situation,

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and asks for more information.

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The ambulance arrives within minutes of Daisy's call.

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As paramedics attend to Sarah, Annette comforts the children.

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I took the girls and I sat them in the lounge and I shut the door

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so they couldn't hear what was going on upstairs.

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They just kept saying, "Is Mummy going to be all right?"

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Upstairs, Sarah is beginning to stir.

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I have a very vague memory at one point,

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a paramedic leaning over me.

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The ambulance crew put Sarah on a stretcher to get her downstairs.

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They had to carry her down the stairs

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and out the front door into the ambulance. So she had to go on

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a plastic board for carrying people on.

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At the same time, dad Nick is about to head home.

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I came out of the gym, and as soon as I got in my car,

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and saw I'd missed three calls from Sarah's phone,

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I thought there's something possibly wrong.

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When he arrives at the house, he finds medics about to load Sarah

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into an ambulance. She's now conscious.

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She was moaning in pain. And you think, you know, the worst,

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that she could be paralysed.

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And she was saying she couldn't feel her legs at the time.

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So, it was a worry.

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With Nick at her side and the girls being cared for by Annette,

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Sarah's taken by ambulance to nearby Derriford Hospital.

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The first thing I remember was being pushed

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along a corridor on a trolley,

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and I recognised the ceiling because I work in the hospital.

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And I asked the person pushing me if they'd put me to sleep.

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It felt like I'd just woke up.

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Sarah suffered a concussion and a broken hand,

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but remarkably was discharged less than 24 hours later.

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The family were relieved to have her home.

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My mum means a lot to me.

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If I didn't have her, I don't know what I'd do.

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She's fun, kind and...I just really love her.

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Both Daisy and Esme were officially commended

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by Devon & Cornwall Police for their actions and bravery that day.

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It was a close call for Sarah.

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Without the girls knowing what to do in an emergency,

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who knows what could have happened?

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If I'd have fallen even another few centimetres, or to the side,

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I could've been paralysed or worse.

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So I know how lucky I was.

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I'd like to thank my little girls for saving me,

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my neighbour for coming round and helping,

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all the emergency services that came that day.

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They did a fantastic job.

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And the family now have a new set of rules to keep Mum safe.

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Now, if Sarah goes in the loft,

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we try to encourage her only to go in the loft whilst I'm at home.

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Well, we don't allow going in the loft without an adult in the house.

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Coming up later, two heavy-goods vehicles about to meet on a bend -

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one's on the wrong side of the road.

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The first moment I saw that wagon, I went rigid with fear.

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It just looked unavoidable.

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North Berwick on the east coast of Scotland.

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A rock climber crashes down a 100-foot cliff face.

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Hitting the rocks below, he lies motionless.

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I didn't know if he was dead or alive.

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The climber needs urgent medical help,

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but there's no mobile phone signal.

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Cousins Jamie and Jason are best mates.

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Growing up in Glasgow, they were inseparable.

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As kids, me and Jason were called double trouble.

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We were never apart and always doing crazy stuff together,

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so it was great.

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He's like a brother to me. You know, he's just the same as a brother.

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Always been there. Staying over every weekend.

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From when we were pups up to now.

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So he's just exactly like a brother.

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As youngsters, they both developed a love of rock climbing.

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Just as a kid, I was always looking for something to climb,

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as in a tree, or when other people were wanting to go on the swings,

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I was not interested in swings.

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I would rather climb on the frame that the swing was on.

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Climbing's just my sport.

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It's just everybody's got one thing that they just absolutely love,

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and rock climbing's mine.

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I don't know, it's just you and the rock face.

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It's just, I don't know, it's just peace and quiet,

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and all you're thinking about is your next move.

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You're not thinking about anything else in the world - bills, anything

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like that. It's just you and the rock face, climbing. That's it.

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Their close bond makes them perfect climbing partners.

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Jason's smarter when it comes to safety-wise as well,

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when I kind of want to push it,

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but we work great as a team because of that fact, you know?

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It's a bright but cold winter's day in February.

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Jamie and Jason are preparing to climb a 100-metre-high sea stack

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off the coast of North Berwick.

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We got there. Just blown away, how beautiful it looked.

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Sea stacks are naturally occurring vertical rock formations

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on the coast, formed by wind and water.

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It's beautiful, it's perfect.

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A rock climbing wall is normally like that.

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A sea stack is like that.

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It's just like a big needle sticking generally out of the ocean.

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And it's just perfect.

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It's like a man-made wall, but in the right shape to go up.

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They'd been training for this climb for months.

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When you get there, it's exciting. You cannot wait to get on the face.

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They rope up, ready to tackle the steep, challenging sea stack.

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Jamie is lead climber, Jason is the belayer.

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It's his job to keep the tension on the rope attached to Jamie.

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If he doesn't, Jamie could fall,

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crashing down onto the sharp, jagged shoreline.

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The first route felt really good, comfortable, strong.

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Apart from getting dive-bombed by seagulls, it went great.

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Next, it's Jason's turn.

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Once both men have successfully completed their first climb,

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they opt for a tougher challenge.

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We picked a harder route the second time,

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round the other side of the stack, and climbed up that,

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which is the more treacherous side, with less protection.

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This time, Jason is first.

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But it's not a climb he enjoys.

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It was quite brittle and you could just, I don't know,

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just something told me that something wasn't going to be right

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that day. I don't know what it was, but as you were climbing,

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it just felt like sand.

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Undeterred by Jason's concerns, Jamie starts HIS climb.

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He places special devices known as cams into the rock face

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every few feet.

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These spring-loaded safety hooks are designed to prevent Jamie from

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falling down the cliff face if he slips or loses his grip.

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I started up the route, quite comfortable, got some protection,

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but once I started climbing, maybe 10-15 feet above the ground level,

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that's when stuff started popping.

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Jamie climbs higher up the 100-foot sea stack,

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but the hooks are failing to hold to the cliff face.

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Every second hold I was pulling on was just popping off

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and half knocking Jason out on the way down.

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So, that was the dangerous part of it,

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but I kept trying to get safe as much as possible.

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Jamie's now climbing with very few secure connections into the rock.

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He's relying entirely on Jason and the belay to save him if he falls.

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Every move he makes is risky,

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but Jamie feels he doesn't have much option.

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I felt safer to continue up on my strength, which is climbing up,

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to get to the solid anchor, than weight the gear.

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That would also mean I was trying to down-climb,

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which is more dangerous than climbing.

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This footage taken from Jason's helmet camera below

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shows Jamie close to reaching the top of the stack.

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But then, with just over a metre to go, disaster.

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Jamie suddenly falls, banging into the rock,

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then somersaulting and plummeting down the stack.

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Unable to right himself, he crashes headfirst into the rocks below.

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When I got to three quarters of the way up,

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I reached out to the right-hand side, went to weight it,

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and it just popped right off,

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came down, and then my footing slipped off it, and then...

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Cheerio. Bye-byes.

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Down I go.

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YELLING

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His holds have came loose, and he's actually started to come down.

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Within about two seconds,

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he had actually done a full backflip and went by me

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and hit off the ground below me.

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The video captures Jason's shouts of horror as he watches his best mate

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plunging down the rock towards him.

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JASON YELLS

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But there's nothing he can do to help.

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I actually heard the thud, it was a pretty horrific thud,

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and I didn't know where...

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For a split second in my head, I was like, "Am I actually going down

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"to him dead here, or is he still alive?"

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Cos he made a horrific noise when he hit the ground,

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and then it was just silence.

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Jamie is left dangling just inches from the rock floor.

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He's dazed and confused.

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Jason desperately tries to revive his mate.

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So I'm up, trying to wake him up, and he just wouldn't come to

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at first, and I didn't know if he was dead or alive.

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Slowly, Jamie comes round.

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Kind of sitting up and saying to myself,

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"How did I get down here so fast?"

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The adrenaline is still pumping.

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He thinks he's escaped without injury.

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First thing that came up in my mind is...

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.."Everything works, I'm fine."

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But then the pain kicks in

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and he begins to check himself over for wounds.

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My elbow's burst open and my ribs are killing me and my back's sore.

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Then I start to realise the extent and then I hear...

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..the fear and how scared Jason is, cos he's seen it all.

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Jason knows Jamie needs urgent medical attention,

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but he can't get a mobile phone signal.

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They must get back to their car so Jason can drive Jamie to hospital.

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But the vehicle is parked more than two miles away.

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They're going to have to walk.

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The journey seemed to take forever. It was a scramble just to get

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up onto the moorland, and then it maybe took 20 minutes,

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where it would normally have taken me...five to get up to the top.

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Then it's over fields and over fences.

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In pain and still in shock, Jamie quickly starts to tire.

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Just trying to keep him awake and keep him perked up

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to try and get back to the car.

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Eventually, they make it to the car and Jason drives Jamie

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straight to Edinburgh Hospital.

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An MRI scan shows Jamie hasn't damaged his spine,

0:21:380:21:41

but he does have a broken elbow, a broken leg

0:21:410:21:44

and numerous cuts and bruises.

0:21:440:21:47

They also discover just how close he was to breaking his neck.

0:21:470:21:51

When I was falling, the rope must have wrapped round my neck

0:21:510:21:56

and caused a big cut right down my neck,

0:21:560:21:58

which has left me with that big scar down the back of my neck

0:21:580:22:02

and onto my chest.

0:22:020:22:04

The accident hasn't put Jamie off his favourite pursuit.

0:22:040:22:08

A couple of months later, he's back climbing,

0:22:080:22:10

although with SOME trepidation.

0:22:100:22:12

The first climb since the accident was indoors.

0:22:120:22:16

I felt pretty comfortable going up, but since the accident,

0:22:160:22:20

it was coming back down again, kind of flashbacks would happen.

0:22:200:22:24

That was the hardest part, coming back down.

0:22:240:22:28

Jason has noticed a change in his cousin's attitude

0:22:280:22:30

-to the sport they both love.

-Jamie's more calculated in his climb now.

0:22:300:22:34

He's not taking as much risks, probably,

0:22:340:22:36

and obviously it's still in the back of his head what happened,

0:22:360:22:39

just how quickly it can happen and we managed to escape this time,

0:22:390:22:42

just with a bit of luck.

0:22:420:22:44

I definitely think that day, somebody was watching over me.

0:22:440:22:47

I was lucky.

0:22:470:22:48

Jamie now has a permanent reminder

0:22:480:22:51

of just how close he came to disaster.

0:22:510:22:54

I got a monument tattoo of the sea stack,

0:22:540:22:58

and the Grim Reaper is sitting at the bottom of the sea stack,

0:22:580:23:02

ready for me.

0:23:020:23:03

But that day, he didn't quite get me.

0:23:030:23:06

We often feature stories from Britain's roads,

0:23:140:23:16

but this next one from Wales might make you jump a bit.

0:23:160:23:19

And you'll understand how the driver who filmed it felt.

0:23:190:23:22

The A40 near Llandovery in Wales.

0:23:230:23:26

A dashcam films the view from the driving seat of a 40-tonne truck.

0:23:270:23:31

It's approaching a bend.

0:23:320:23:35

Suddenly, out of nowhere, another lorry appears.

0:23:350:23:38

It's on the wrong side of the road.

0:23:380:23:41

They're about to meet head-on.

0:23:410:23:43

Chris Sherburne, from Selby in Yorkshire,

0:23:510:23:54

drives an HGV for a living, a job he instantly fell in love with

0:23:540:23:58

the first time he sat behind the wheel.

0:23:580:24:00

I like being your own boss.

0:24:000:24:02

I enjoy the challenge and the variations of places that we go to.

0:24:020:24:07

But there is one downside to all the travelling.

0:24:070:24:10

It takes him away from his family for long periods of time.

0:24:100:24:14

He has two daughters, a son and two grandchildren.

0:24:140:24:17

They're all grown up now and left home, and they mean the world to me,

0:24:170:24:21

these three kids and the grandchildren.

0:24:210:24:23

Chris is a former soldier, another job that involved

0:24:250:24:28

a lot of travelling.

0:24:280:24:29

I served with the Royal Engineers and served in countries like Kenya,

0:24:290:24:35

Germany and Northern Ireland.

0:24:350:24:38

When he does have free time,

0:24:380:24:39

his passion is to get straight back on the road.

0:24:390:24:42

On two wheels.

0:24:420:24:44

I love the open road, the freedom,

0:24:440:24:47

the camaraderie with fellow bikers, and, yeah,

0:24:470:24:50

we're all on each other's same wavelengths.

0:24:500:24:53

Chris has put plenty of miles under his belt

0:24:530:24:55

with both forms of transport,

0:24:550:24:57

but he's never been involved in a serious road accident.

0:24:570:25:01

He puts this down to some advice from his dad.

0:25:010:25:04

I remember me dad saying once, "Always expect the unexpected,"

0:25:040:25:08

and it's helped me a lot, actually.

0:25:080:25:11

It's a sunny spring day in April.

0:25:120:25:14

Chris is at the wheel of his 40-tonne lorry,

0:25:140:25:17

and has just finished making a delivery in South Wales.

0:25:170:25:20

He's now heading 50 miles east to Abergavenny.

0:25:200:25:24

It was a beautiful day. I was enjoying

0:25:240:25:26

the scenery and the nice weather.

0:25:260:25:28

The roads were quiet as well so, yeah,

0:25:280:25:31

it was made out to be a nice run.

0:25:310:25:33

The camera in his cab gives Chris's view of the road ahead,

0:25:350:25:38

as he travels along at a steady 40mph

0:25:380:25:41

on the A40 in Carmarthenshire -

0:25:410:25:44

a road he knows well.

0:25:440:25:46

I have been on this road numerous times.

0:25:460:25:49

We do a lot of work down in Wales.

0:25:490:25:51

But as he comes to a bend in the road, this is what he sees.

0:25:510:25:55

Within two and a half seconds, I'd gone from 40 to 0.

0:25:590:26:05

The enormous 40-tonne lorry hurtles towards him.

0:26:060:26:10

The first moment I saw that wagon coming round that bend,

0:26:120:26:16

I went rigid with fear and my foot went rigidly on that pedal,

0:26:160:26:23

the middle pedal. It just looked unavoidable.

0:26:230:26:26

The other lorry swerves to the left

0:26:260:26:29

as Chris hurls his vehicle towards the bank.

0:26:290:26:32

It's such a narrow road.

0:26:320:26:34

There was no veering off, hardly, I could do.

0:26:340:26:37

So I had to rely on braking, my instincts,

0:26:370:26:40

and also his instincts as well.

0:26:400:26:42

You've got two 40-tonne wagons doing 40mph towards each other,

0:26:420:26:48

and meeting on a blind bend. It's quite scary, actually.

0:26:480:26:53

QUITE scary! Miraculously,

0:26:550:26:57

the two lorries narrowly miss a potentially fatal head-on collision.

0:26:570:27:01

I did think, at one point, my days were up.

0:27:020:27:05

He pulled to his left and I pulled to my left.

0:27:050:27:08

We JUST missed each other.

0:27:080:27:10

And he carried on, on his way, and I've not seen him since.

0:27:100:27:14

Chris is in shock and stops his lorry at the first opportunity.

0:27:140:27:19

How we never made contact is unbelievable.

0:27:190:27:23

If we'd have had an actual collision,

0:27:230:27:26

I wouldn't have been here. It'd have killed me.

0:27:260:27:29

Yeah.

0:27:290:27:31

And Chris is convinced those wise words from his father

0:27:340:27:37

kept him safe once again.

0:27:370:27:39

I think my dad was sat with me that day.

0:27:390:27:42

Always expect the unexpected.

0:27:420:27:44

Didn't expect that.

0:27:440:27:46

Now, that WAS a close call.

0:27:570:27:58

It's unbelievable those two lorries didn't collide head-on.

0:27:580:28:01

See you next time.

0:28:010:28:02

How two little girls dialled 999 and saved their mum after she fell from the loft. Plus the stories of two cousins climbing a sea stack when one plunged 60 feet onto rocks and a trucker who came face to face with another lorry as he went round a bend on the same side of the road.