Episode 18 Close Calls: On Camera


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Episode 18

A worker is trapped under his dumper truck when it topples and rolls on top of him, and a racing driver's brakes fail, sending him somersaulting along the track.


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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? 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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a man working near a remote Scottish loch

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is trapped under a dumper truck.

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It's rolled on top of him.

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The emergency services try to establish how badly he's been hurt.

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And a racing driver speeding into a turn tries to slow down as the rest

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of the field bunch up in front of him...

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..but his brakes fail.

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And you're just trying to do your best, you know? It's just...

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it's survival. You're just trying to sort of fight for it.

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The Mini racer somersaults off the track.

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Also today...

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a couple on their way to a birthday celebration overtake a supertruck.

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Their dash cam captures what happens next.

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Loch Tay, Scotland.

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A call comes in to the emergency services

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from a remote lochside location.

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The caller has been rung by a distressed colleague working on the

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other side of the water.

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His friend's dumper truck has tipped over, rolling on top of him.

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He's injured and being crushed by the weight of the vehicle.

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The 999 call handler manages to make contact with the casualty.

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The wounded man needs help quickly,

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but no-one is sure exactly where he is, including him.

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The stunning county of Perthshire is home to landscape gardener Kevin,

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who set up his business here 20 years ago.

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I just love being outdoors, I mean, just being outside with nature.

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You get to see different parts of the landscape every day.

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Yeah, so it's just, I wouldn't have it any other way.

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Kevin loves his job and it's also a means to support his family.

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He dotes on his two young daughters.

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Well, I mean, my kids are my world. Everything you do is for the kids.

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Got two girls - Millie, who's nine, and Annie, who's eight.

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Yeah, full of mischief.

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Two wee blondies. Just, yeah, keeping me on my toes.

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It's a Friday morning in April.

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Kevin and his colleague Sandy are working at a house on the south side

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of Loch Tay.

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It's a beautiful but remote location.

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Just working up Loch Tayside, great views.

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We had hit rock on the job, so we had to bring a breaker,

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and a bigger breaker. Sandy was breaking out the rock,

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and I was loading the dumper round the corner

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and carting the rock down towards the loch.

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The two men are working some distance apart when Kevin sets off

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along a muddy track to get rid of his third truckload of the day.

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He's driving a mini dumper truck weighing more than two tonnes.

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Suddenly, the machine starts to tip.

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The dumper lost balance.

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One of the wheels sunk in a wet piece of ground.

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Before he can do anything about it, the dumper begins to keel over.

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Kevin makes a split-second decision.

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I could feel the machine going, and that's when I thought,

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"Time to bail out."

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I tried to jump off, but my waterproofs got stuck on one of the

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handles, and the next thing, it was on top of me.

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Kevin is pinned down in the mud underneath the truck's heavy engine.

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He's trapped and knows he's badly injured, too.

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I looked down to see the sole of my welly boot at my knee, so I thought,

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my initial reaction was, my welly had come off,

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but that's where my foot was.

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It had snapped halfway down my leg and come back on itself.

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So once I realised what was going on there, I started panicking a bit.

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But the wound to his leg isn't his only problem.

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The rollbar came across my ribs, so it was

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starting to crush me as well.

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With the machine pressing him deeper into the mud,

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Kevin desperately tries to attract his colleague Sandy's attention...

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HE WHISTLES

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..but he's 50 yards along the track, and around a bend.

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He was breaking at the time. If anyone knows about hydraulic breakers, they're quite loud,

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so I was shouting and whistling.

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Kevin struggles to retrieve his mobile phone and dials 999,

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but the signal is intermittent, and he can't keep the connection.

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Spoke to somebody on the phone and then lost my signal.

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Very bad place for a signal up there.

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Kevin knows he's in big trouble,

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and water is rising around him in the ditch.

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Things going through your head, your family,

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"Got to make every effort to get out of this situation," and, yeah,

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dead scary.

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His only option is to try to save himself.

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Had to push myself out with my broken leg,

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cos my other leg was trapped.

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Excruciating pain. Absolute agony.

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Never experienced anything like that, pain-wise.

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He's left lying in the mud, exhausted and alone,

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wondering where help could come from.

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But the sound of his screams and shouts have carried across the

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waters of the loch and been heard by workers there.

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Suddenly his phone rings.

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It was one of my friends from down the road, a farmer, Roddy.

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Knowing Kevin was working on the south side of the loch,

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Roddy is checking to see if he's OK.

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Luckily, at that moment,

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Kevin has enough signal to briefly explain his predicament.

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Across the loch, Roddy calls 999.

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On the other end of the phone is call handler Aaron.

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A general knowledge of the area, I knew it was going to be quite hard

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to access, and it was going to be quite a while

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before we could reach him.

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Roddy sets off towards his injured friend's location,

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while Aaron immediately calls Kevin's number.

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I had another incoming call on my phone,

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and this was 999.

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He sounded quite scared. As I was talking to him more,

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he did calm, he calmed down a lot more.

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I was still in a lot of pain,

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but to know there was help on the way was certainly a big relief.

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Hearing Kevin gasping with pain,

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Aaron tries to establish the extent of his injuries.

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Pins and needles that he was describing, the lack of feeling,

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gave me some cause for concern about what he'd done to his leg.

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The pins and needles would point towards a

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vascular compromise, lack of blood flow.

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Kevin's condition is deteriorating,

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and the ambulance is having problems finding the location.

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His confusion, caused by shock, isn't helping.

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Growing more and more concerned,

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Aaron calls out the Air Ambulance from Perth airport.

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Just because of where he was, he couldn't have picked a worse place,

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really. In the middle of nowhere, on the banks of a loch,

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down a single-track road.

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During the call, Kevin is discovered by a workmate who stays with him,

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but it's another agonising 20 minutes before the 999 call picks up

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the sound of the Air Ambulance.

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I can hear the helicopter approaching,

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and then it came into sight over the top of the trees.

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This photograph shows the moment air medics arrive.

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Lead paramedic John Pritchard finds Kevin in the ditch behind his

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toppled dumper.

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Kevin was very distressed when we got there, obviously,

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and very relieved that we had got to him.

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I thought, "Yeah, I'm in safe hands now....

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-"Let them do their work."

-We saw that the limb was very,

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very badly deformed at this point,

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because this could be a limb-threatening injury.

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They administered some morphine to me, to numb the pain a bit,

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and that's when they decided to try and get me on the stretcher and

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straighten my leg out, so they could strap me down.

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It takes three paramedics to straighten Kevin's broken leg.

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It needs to be pulled back in line,

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and the sooner we can get that pulled back into alignment,

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the better the circulation to the extremities of that limb.

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He's flown to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.

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It's a 60-mile journey that would take over an hour and a half by car,

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but takes just 20 minutes in the Air Ambulance.

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I remember being in the helicopter, lying on my back,

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looking at all the control panels.

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The paramedics trying to keep talking to me and comfort me.

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And that 20-minute flight was key in saving that limb.

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Kevin suffered a broken ankle and shin, and several broken ribs.

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He was in hospital for 14 days.

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My kids came to visit me, eight and seven at the time.

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I think they were just relieved to see their dad

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was still in one piece.

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After a number of skin grafts and operations,

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Kevin was sent home to recover.

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They inserted a titanium rod in through my kneecap,

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and that goes down the middle of the bone, down through the marrow,

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and connects the bone back up,

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and they screw it down at the ankle and screw it at the top,

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so now my bone is probably one of the stronger parts of my body!

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A year of physiotherapy and recovery followed,

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but Kevin is now back at work.

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I'd like to thank everybody enormously

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for what they did that day.

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I think I was very lucky to get out

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of it the way I have, actually, yeah.

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Coming up, a husband and wife travelling along the motorway

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are overtaking a huge lorry.

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I didn't notice anything. I was just focusing on getting past.

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But her husband does, and shouts a warning.

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Knockhill, Dunfermline.

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At Scotland's only race circuit, the Mini Cooper Cup gets underway.

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Lights out, and away we go!

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A driver halfway down the field has his pedal to the metal,

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but at the first turn, the cars in front slow and bunch up.

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He needs to lose speed, but his brakes fail.

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He hits a kerb, then a team-mate,

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and a split-second later is upside down,

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careering off the track.

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Then it started to barrel roll, and I'm thinking, "I hope he's OK,"

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because it...because when I'm looking in my mirrors and I'm

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watching it, it seemed pretty lethal.

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Edinburgh - home to car and all-round racing fanatic Tim Sleigh.

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He's not only been a top driver,

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he now also runs a car business and a racing team.

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But then again, it is something of a family tradition.

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His dad Tom raced against some of the all-time greats,

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including Jackie Stewart.

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Tim pretty much grew up track-side.

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I was very little when my father was still sort of racing.

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It was a bit of a sort of family event.

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We'd often walk up and down through the paddock,

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and it was all quite exciting to us.

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The smell of the fumes

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and the noise of the revving engines was quite good.

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So it's no great surprise when Tim starts racing at a young age,

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first in motocross, and then later on four wheels, in a Fiesta XR2.

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I was bitten by it. Next thing I know, I've bought this car,

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I've bought... I bought a trailer. Once I started in 2009,

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I think I qualified fifth in my first race.

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I come from a very competitive family.

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I mean, me and my brother used to race each other to the toilet!

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You could see very early on that he was going to be pretty good.

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He was getting the hang of it very quickly.

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He won the Newcomers' Trophy, and the championship twice.

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Tim then swapped Fiesta XR2 competitions for the more

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challenging Mini Cooper racing, and liked that even more.

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It's so exhilarating, because it's so tight.

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It's door-handle-to-door-handle racing.

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Everybody's just trying to squeeze through you. It's very exciting.

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Tim's racing career really takes off at Knockhill racing circuit

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in Dunfermline, home to Scottish motorsport.

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Every year in the Mini Cooper Championship,

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drivers compete over seven race meetings.

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Four races in, and Tim's well-placed.

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Team-mate Mikey Faulkner is convinced Tim's in with a chance.

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Top guy, really good racer.

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He's really quick. Really, really quick.

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It's August, and at Knockhill racetrack,

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Tim is lining up on the grid for the second race of the fifth meeting.

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He's in 11th place after being bumped in the first race of the day,

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and his championship dreams are looking hazy.

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In the crowd, his parents know he'll be going all-out to pick up points.

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Tim's adrenaline is pumping.

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Your heart's really starting to race now as well. You sort of, you feel

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it, you're going, but you're just trying to sort of focus as well.

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You're trying not to...make sure your legs are shaking too much and

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slip off the clutch!

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The five-light countdown begins.

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-And they're off!

-The light's out, and away we go!

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From halfway down the field, Tim makes a good start,

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aiming to quickly catch up with the leaders.

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But just after the first turn, the cars are tightly packed.

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It's a bottleneck, and Tim can't see a way through.

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He has to slow down.

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I'm charging on at quite a rate of knots,

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and all the cars are pretty much stopping in front of me.

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I've got to jump on the brake pedal myself,

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and I find out the brake pedal's absolutely solid.

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The car's brakes fail.

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Tim can't stop.

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My team-mate's right in front of me.

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All I'm going to do is just plough all the way through these cars,

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so I'm just trying to take necessary avoidance.

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Tim does his best to take evasive action, but slams into the kerb,

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bouncing into the rear nearside of the vehicle in front.

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It's Mikey's.

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All of a sudden, this massive thud behind me!

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Looked in my mirror, I'm thinking, "Oh, that was my team-mate,

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"that was Tim! Lucky! Thanks, Tim!" You know?

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But Tim's got a lot on his mind right now.

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He's somersaulting down the track.

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There's a rollover! That's...that's Tim Sleigh!

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And you're just trying to do your best, you know?

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It's just...it's survival. You're just trying to sort of fight for it.

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Because you would expect the weight transfer to bring it back down,

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but because, I think, he hit the kerb so hard,

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and it was such a massive thump,

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it kind of just...it decided, "No, I'm not going to come back down."

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The car tips over, on to its roof.

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Tim's out of the race, but not out of danger.

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Initially, when it was sliding down on its roof, down the hill,

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I think I was calm, from what I can remember, you know?

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I was calm, I was OK, I was just sort of...

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It was more sort of frustration and disappointment, sort of thinking,

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you know, "Well, that's me going to be out of this race."

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Tim Sleigh rolled! That's a horrendous-looking roll!

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At the bottom of the hill,

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the car appears to slow, but it doesn't stop.

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And it started to barrel roll, and I'm thinking, "I hope he's OK,"

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cos it...cos when I'm looking in my mirrors and I'm watching it,

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it seemed pretty lethal.

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The combination of the track footage and Tim's own car camera shows what

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happens next.

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When it picked up to get going,

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I suppose I kind of lost it.

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I didn't know if I was upside down, I didn't know if I was forwards,

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backwards, sideways. Completely disorientated.

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It goes from big, huge, hard thumps...

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LOUD THUDS OF IMPACT

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..to sort of, like, being calm, and sort of nothing, and then a big

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thump, bang, and you're getting thrown about.

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And then it's sort of floating and there's nothing, and then,

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bang, bang, bang! It's away again,

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and I'm man enough to admit that I was scared at that moment

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when it picked up the roll.

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As the car rolls,

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Tim's helmet and arm are visible through the now open door.

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Mikey fears his team-mate is in real trouble.

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My main concern was, you know, "Is he OK?"

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You know, "Is he going to walk away from this?"

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There's nothing he can do to help.

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He drives his own damaged car into the pits and waits for news.

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In the crowd, Tim's dad is unaware of what's happened.

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He's watching at a bend further down the track.

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Down at the hairpin, waiting for the cars to come, and Tim didn't appear,

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and I thought, "That's strange." You tend to think,

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"Oh, well...is he OK?"

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You know, that's the first thing you think of.

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Further back near the start, Tim's car has come to rest on the grass

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verge at the side of the track.

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Marshals and medics run across to help.

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Inside the car, he checks himself over for injuries.

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It's the initial quick assessment of, like, "I'm OK.

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"No bones sticking out of shirts or anything like that," you know?

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It was just, like, it was kind of...

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"What's just happened?!"

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I climbed out of the car, in my moment of madness,

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climbed on the bonnet,

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and climbed on the roof and took a bow and gave a wave to the crowd.

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-Ever the showman, I suppose, but...

-HE LAUGHS

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When the wreckage of the car is brought back to the paddock,

0:20:020:20:05

only the roll cage is left intact.

0:20:050:20:08

You think, "How on Earth did he walk away from it?"

0:20:090:20:11

How he didn't break his arm or a leg or anything like that,

0:20:110:20:14

it was very lucky.

0:20:140:20:16

He was a little bit in shock, but that's what you'd expect!

0:20:160:20:19

And I suppose I was a little bit in shock, too,

0:20:190:20:21

because it was far more than I'd thought of.

0:20:210:20:23

That's then when you begin to register a little bit that it's far

0:20:230:20:26

more dangerous than you think it is.

0:20:260:20:28

One of my sponsors actually said to me,

0:20:280:20:31

they said, you know, "Today was a good day."

0:20:310:20:34

And I said to him, "I fail to share your sentiment,"

0:20:340:20:39

and he goes, "No," he goes, "if you think about it," he says,

0:20:390:20:42

"you've had a massive accident like that,

0:20:420:20:44

"where you could have been killed."

0:20:440:20:45

He said, "You got out of the car, and you walked away.

0:20:450:20:49

"Today was a good day."

0:20:490:20:51

It's all about transport of one sort or another today.

0:20:590:21:02

But most of us don't use construction vehicles or race Minis.

0:21:020:21:06

Lots of us do, however, drive cars and use the roads.

0:21:060:21:09

Next, a story about a couple heading along the motorway to a birthday

0:21:090:21:12

dinner, who didn't get a chance to celebrate that night.

0:21:120:21:15

The M20 in Kent.

0:21:170:21:19

A couple heading along the motorway to a birthday celebration overtake a

0:21:200:21:24

huge supertruck. They notice it...

0:21:240:21:27

Big, white, state-of-the-art vehicle, not like the normal ones.

0:21:270:21:31

..but the driver doesn't spot them.

0:21:310:21:33

TYRES SCREECH

0:21:360:21:38

LOUD CRASH

0:21:380:21:41

The market town of Hythe on the Kent coast.

0:21:460:21:50

Tina Reed, who works for the National Grid,

0:21:500:21:52

lives here with her husband Ian,

0:21:520:21:54

and it's where they brought up their children.

0:21:540:21:57

We both lead quite an active life.

0:21:570:21:59

Our daughter, she's very energetic.

0:21:590:22:02

We did a lot of camping holidays, so it was all family-orientated.

0:22:020:22:06

Tina and Ian have been happily married for more than 20 years,

0:22:090:22:12

and they've made a habit of always doing something special

0:22:120:22:15

on their birthdays.

0:22:150:22:16

It's June, and Ian's celebrating his 55th.

0:22:180:22:21

The couple decide on a trip to the cinema,

0:22:210:22:24

followed by dinner to celebrate.

0:22:240:22:26

I'd actually pre-booked some tickets for the cinema.

0:22:260:22:30

We were going to go and see Jurassic World.

0:22:300:22:32

On that day, we'd left home around 6:25pm,

0:22:320:22:36

cos the show was starting at seven o'clock,

0:22:360:22:40

so we thought we'd get there in good time.

0:22:400:22:42

They set off with Tina driving and Ian alongside in the passenger seat.

0:22:430:22:48

A camera mounted on the dashboard records the evening traffic.

0:22:480:22:51

Tina installed it after an anxious moment on the same stretch

0:22:510:22:54

of motorway two weeks earlier.

0:22:540:22:57

Two weeks previously, I was driving to work in the morning,

0:22:570:23:01

and a lorry on the inside lane, as I was in the middle lane again,

0:23:010:23:06

had a blow-out, and he was weaving all over the road,

0:23:060:23:10

and the wheel came off and started to head towards the car,

0:23:100:23:13

and just before it got me, it veered off, and I said,

0:23:130:23:15

"I've got to get myself a dashcam."

0:23:150:23:17

The couple are travelling along the M20 from Hythe towards Ashford.

0:23:190:23:23

Traffic is flowing freely,

0:23:230:23:25

but following earlier problems at the Channel Tunnel,

0:23:250:23:28

there are a lot of big lorries in evidence.

0:23:280:23:31

Visibility was absolutely perfect.

0:23:310:23:34

It was a beautiful sunny day.

0:23:340:23:36

Tina uses the motorway daily on her way to work,

0:23:370:23:40

and she's used to seeing lots of HGVs heading for the tunnel.

0:23:400:23:44

But today, one in particular catches her attention.

0:23:440:23:47

I pulled out into the middle lane to overtake the queue of lorries.

0:23:470:23:51

I noticed one particular one,

0:23:510:23:53

which was the first one I was just going to come past.

0:23:530:23:56

Big, white, state-of-the-art vehicle, not like the normal ones.

0:23:560:24:00

And I was just passing, building up to top speed.

0:24:000:24:03

Tina's dashcam shows she has plenty of space in front,

0:24:030:24:07

between her car and another lorry further up ahead.

0:24:070:24:11

But Ian is looking out of the passenger side window at the big,

0:24:110:24:14

white truck they're still alongside.

0:24:140:24:16

Suddenly, he shouts a warning.

0:24:160:24:18

I didn't notice anything.

0:24:200:24:22

I was just focusing on getting past, and next thing,

0:24:220:24:26

Ian's sat next to me, saying, "Watch him! Watch him!"

0:24:260:24:29

And I'm thinking, "What, what's he saying, 'watch him'?"

0:24:290:24:32

And next thing, I hear, like, a bang.

0:24:320:24:35

Watch him!

0:24:350:24:36

It's too late.

0:24:360:24:37

The dashcam captures the horrifying seconds that follow...

0:24:370:24:40

LOUD CRASH

0:24:400:24:42

..and the couple's reaction.

0:24:420:24:44

The juggernaut drifts into their lane, clipping the back of their

0:24:450:24:48

car, and sending it into a terrifying spin.

0:24:480:24:51

The vehicle is thrown up the embankment and hurled over the top,

0:24:520:24:56

landing 40 metres away in a field.

0:24:560:24:58

Tina remembers every moment.

0:25:000:25:02

Then the car is suddenly spinning round, facing into the slow lane,

0:25:020:25:09

sideways. And then I recall another impact.

0:25:090:25:13

Basically, we'd gone in front of the lorry,

0:25:160:25:18

so he'd driven straight into the side, passenger, where Ian was sat.

0:25:180:25:22

I remember looking over, and as we sort of spun again,

0:25:220:25:26

I recall seeing Ian's head and shoulders go out the window that was

0:25:260:25:31

missing, and I thought, "He's dead."

0:25:310:25:34

I thought, "That's it, he's dead."

0:25:340:25:36

We end up going up the embankment,

0:25:390:25:41

full speed in reverse, through a fence.

0:25:410:25:45

With the impact, the force, it had thrown Ian into that side of me,

0:25:460:25:51

and there was a lever underneath my car seat,

0:25:510:25:54

and that had impacted on the back of my leg.

0:25:540:25:57

As the car spins, the camera on the dashboard flips around and films

0:25:570:26:01

Tina and Ian mid-crash.

0:26:010:26:04

Shock and confusion is etched on

0:26:050:26:07

their faces as they fly off the motorway.

0:26:070:26:10

Finally, the car comes to a standstill, right side up.

0:26:100:26:14

Their first thoughts are for each other.

0:26:150:26:18

-You all right, hon?

-Yeah, are you? Are you all right?

0:26:180:26:20

-I've hurt my rib.

-OK, OK.

0:26:200:26:23

I can recall, like, looking down and thinking,

0:26:230:26:25

"Still got my arms, still got my legs."

0:26:250:26:28

Jesus Christ!

0:26:280:26:29

It took a bit of time for it to sink in.

0:26:290:26:31

-Are we going to call the police?

-Give us your phone.

0:26:310:26:35

The couple dial 999, only to discover a number of motorists have

0:26:350:26:39

already alerted the emergency services, warning them

0:26:390:26:42

to expect the worst.

0:26:420:26:44

We understand, later on, talking to them,

0:26:440:26:46

is that they received calls saying,

0:26:460:26:50

"There's been a lorry's hit a car,

0:26:500:26:51

"but we don't think they've made it."

0:26:510:26:54

Police and Ambulance Services rush to the scene,

0:26:570:26:59

and the couple are taken to hospital.

0:26:590:27:01

Miraculously, although both are in severe shock,

0:27:010:27:04

they escape with just serious bruising.

0:27:040:27:08

Tina remembers her husband telling her he doubted he would survive.

0:27:080:27:12

He says to me that, at that moment we looked out the window and saw the

0:27:130:27:17

front grille of that lorry, he thought to himself, "Today, I die."

0:27:170:27:21

In fact, the truck's grille helped save their lives.

0:27:220:27:25

The brand-new lorry is designed to sweep obstacles away rather than

0:27:250:27:29

-crush them.

-It was designed to...like a snowplough.

0:27:290:27:32

It would move you away from its path.

0:27:320:27:35

I think that was our blessing that day, is that we weren't hit by some

0:27:350:27:39

ordinary run-of-the-mill juggernaut.

0:27:390:27:41

Ian has suffered another serious,

0:27:430:27:44

unrelated health issue since the accident,

0:27:440:27:48

but the couple have watched the footage from their dashboard camera

0:27:480:27:51

several times over and asked the same question.

0:27:510:27:53

How did we walk away from that?

0:27:530:27:56

I believe, that day, we were very lucky,

0:27:560:27:58

and we shouldn't have been here, but we are.

0:27:580:28:00

-You all right, hon?

-Yeah, are you?

0:28:020:28:04

That's all from Close Calls.

0:28:120:28:13

See you next time.

0:28:130:28:15

A worker in a remote location is trapped under his dumper truck when it topples and rolls on top of him, a racing driver's brakes fail, sending him somersaulting along the track, and a couple on their way to a birthday celebration overtake a super truck which fails to see them, sending them 40 feet over an embankment.