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Hello and welcome to Inside Out South West.
Tonight, we report into the ongoing investigation into the M5 crash. We
have remarkable new testimony from those involved in one of Britain's
worst ever motorway pile-ups. was like stepping on to a movie set.
It wasn't real. 10 days on, the questions are still being asked.
can't believe you can have a firework display so close to a
motorway. Also tonight, Jonathan Foyle
uncovers the strange story behind the monument that towers above St.
Ives. That is dramatic. This is As the police continue their
investigation into the M5 crash, we've been hearing remarkable
testimony from those involved. was getting up to speed and a head,
I noticed a white wall. I said, that is the thickest fog I have
ever seen. The lorries hit cars in front of us and we could here bang,
bang, bang from behind as well. It was hell. It was the worst noise
running through your head, just screams of people, not knowing what
to do first. The next thing was as if somebody had thrown a black
blanket over the windscreen. It went jet-black.
And Inside Out can reveal that no fog warnings were displayed on the
M5's electronic signs at the time of the accident, despite forecasts
and reports of poor visibility that night. BBC viewers had been warned
of fog and so had the Highways Agency. At 4 o'clock, its website
was sent a forecast of fog and mist at the Met Office. These conditions
were experienced by eyewitness, Rob Weaving. There were small patches
of foregone water on the ground, it was not raining heavily. Despite
this, no warnings were displayed on the M5. We asked the Highways
Agency, which controls the electronic boards, why? It said it
had received no reports of adverse weather on any of its roads. And it
said its control centre had been given advice by the Met Office that
"did not highlight fog as a potential hazard" at the time of
the crash. At around 8.15 that evening, a fireworks display at
Taunton Rugby Club ended. A police investigation is ongoing into
whether smoke from that played any part in the accident. Whatever the
cause, for Ciara and Roger Neno there was no warning of what was to
come as they joined the motorway at junction 25. We pulled on to the M
five and we were getting up to speed behind an Icelander truck in
the middle lane, when we rolled into a wall of a very sudden, very,
very thick, what appeared to be fog. It was like somebody had thrown a
hood over the windscreen of a car. You could not see a thing. Almost
as soon as that had happened, I could see the truck, but it was
stationery. I was closing fast from about 80 metres, closing quite
quickly, and having to break very sharply. I literally stood on the
brakes. I was thinking, we are not going to stop. But we did. We
stopped about two, from my memory, about 10 feet to spare. The lorries
had cars in front of us and we could hear bang, bang, buying from
behind as well. It was rhythmical. It was just like a beach. -- beta.
I turned to cure and said, we are going to get hit. -- cure. Based on
post crash pictures, we've tried to indicate what happened in the
aftermath of the accident. The vehicles represented may not be
exactly where they ended up immediately after the crash. The
Nenos were in the very first phase of the collision, and Ciara was one
of the first to dial 999. I said, we need ambulance, fire brigade and
police. I said this is not just a small crash, there are many, many
crashes and I can see fire. Then came the second phase of the crash.
A lorry jack-knifed behind them, protecting the couple from impact.
After probably 90 seconds, they said, I'm not sitting here any
longer, I have got to see what I can do. That is when I stepped out
of the car. It was like stepping on to a movie set. You just don't
figure is real for a minute. Just mangled bits of metal everywhere
and I can hear the music from the rugby club, and I just keep
thinking, God, they have no idea what is going on appear. Roger saw
two men trapped in the car directly in front of him, he borrowed a tyre
lever from a truck driver. I ran back and told the guy in the seat
to turn away, and I smashed the window. It smashed first time. I
pulled him out. The chapel on the other side was very dazed. He was
in a worse way. We said, move over, we will get you out. We couldn't
open his door because he was at the barrier. He said, why, I'm OK? I
said look, you engine is gone and a car is smoking, it might go up in
flames, you need to get out. We pulled him out. Tom Hamill, his
girlfriend Catherine and Dad, had pulled up behind the jack-knifed
lorry. They too were remarkably lucky not to have been hit. I just
remember sat there and Thomas was like, we are going to get hit,
brace yourselves. We heard and saw to the left, cars just crashing in.
Someone shouted, please, take my baby, take my baby, my husband is
trapped in a car, take my baby. dialled 999, standing at the
central reservation, as more cars were crashing into the back of us.
I remember they call handler saying, how many cars? I kept saying,
there's more! In this third phase of the crash, Matt and Michelle
Craker, their son Fred and three dogs, ended up wedged on the hard
shoulder between a lorry and the crash barrier. We got out and the
van and straight away in front, I could see flames. Not coming from
us, not the car in front, but it seemed about 10 feet away, big
flames. There was fire. I remember before I actually descended the
bank, the lorry was well alight, looking to the right, the Roads
Service was on fire. There had obviously been a fuel spill. The
last image of looking at the van was from the bottom of the
embankments, looking up. The cab of the vans had flames in it so the
fire had spread through the lorry, into the van. That is really within
a matter of minutes a bus coming to a halt. A dash of us. The other
side of the blazing lorry, Roger Neno followed a young woman's cries
for help. Her car was pinned under the jack-knifed lorry. I thought
the car -- the fire would spread underneath and it would not take
long. I jumped over. The front door or was slightly ajar or at the top.
They were not move. I told her to move back and Swanley Aaron at the
window and on the 4th attempt it broke. -- I swung the Arran. I
pulled right. I was trying to keep her calm and not panic so as not to
panic her. I was thinking, it is raining, drizzle is all we need,
but there is this strong smell of fuel and the residual all over the
floor. As I was doing this I saw the lady... The Lou DiBella was
pained by her legs under the back wheel. -- the lady that was pained.
She was pinned under the lorry. She was screaming, help, get me out. I
was fearful that she would lie there and burn as well. With no
chance of releasing her, Roger ran for help, returning with an off-
duty doctor and one of the fire crews which were now arriving
Despite the fireball, the woman was saved. I could see Roger going
towards the car. There was a huge fireball behind. It just exploded
and I screamed at him, get out! I've got everything was could go up.
Despite a fireball, the woman was saved. Roger and Ciara spent hours
at the scene helping with the relief effort. The time between the
Nenos stopping, and the first emergency services arriving took
about the time it's taken you to watch this film. 51 people were
injured in the crash, seven died. The investigation may one day
provide some answers. But for the people involved, the sights and
sounds of that night will live with them for the rest of their lives.
am talking about us and there are people who have lost family members
and been permanently injured and their lives are changed for ever
and... You know, I don't even have a scratch. It just doesn't make any
sense. None at all. The police investigation continues. One line
of inquiry is whether smoke from a fireworks display which was being
held at Taunton Rugby Club may have been a contributing factor.
It was billed as a dazzling night of family fun. But within 48 hours,
this event was at the centre of a police criminal investigation.
believe that whilst there was fog and there were difficult conditions
that from witness evidence, there was significant smoke across the
carriageway which cost a bank, so much to a far bank, which was very
distracting it difficult to drive through. 10 days on, the question
remains unanswered. Did a fireworks display at Taunton Rugby Club cause
or contribute to Britain's worst motorway crash for 20 years? We
wanted to talk to experts from the fireworks industry and those caught
up in the tragedy. We found conflicting eyewitness accounts.
cannot believe you can have a fireworks display so close to a
motorway. It was foggy, so you would not be able to tell if there
was smoke. The fireworks display with some were over there and I was
over there. The accident happened just parallel, almost behind for
ever read the posters. The -- where the rugby post is. Bev Davis heard
the fireworks go off. It took her and her horses by surprise.
couldn't believe it. I ran down to the entrance of the rugby club to
ask them to stop so I could get my horses in. She went straight to
talk to the organisers. While she was there, she raised the question
of safety. A said I can't believe you can have a fireworks display so
close to the motorway. The fact bet it was so bright and blaring, I
just don't see how it could have been anything other than a
distraction. A distraction and worries about smoke. Issues which
have worried the public since the crash and ones the police are now
examining. Tom Smith also takes an active interest. He's a
pyrotechnics consultant. This is the rugby club, for the fireworks
were fired from. This is the M5 and this is where the accident fight --
side was. He estimates the club is 200 metres from the character way.
These are low-level fireworks, and then hire of, Shiels bursting over
the top. -- higher up. A Aurigny producing what looks like a lot of
smoke? The amount of smoke I would expect from a display that size. We
can see the fireworks clearly. There is obviously some smoke but
it is not excessive. It will drift downwind but we do not know where
the wind was. The forecast was for a south-westerly wind. If it is
south-westerly the smoke would travel in this direction. That is
parallel to the motorway ballad than towards it. Regardless of
direction, what would happen to the smoke? It is finite. You cannot
have a very thick and very deep. If it is over an extensive portion of
the motorway Ben by necessity it must have been delayed and then. --
dilate and Fein. We decided to take a much closer look at the smoke
generated by fireworks. Alan Christie's helping us. He detonates
16 tons of fireworks every year and is the man who puts the bang into
the Bristol Balloon Fiesta. I have brought along a selection of the
most ever got things you would find. There is a comical fountain, a 25
mm calibre, a Roman candle. Close up, this appeared to be very fine,
almost like an aerosol spray. The Met Office has told us smoke can
cause mist or fog to form in damp air. It can also thicken them up.
But that's not what Alan's found from his experience with fireworks.
Do you pick it would generate for almost? The not a chance. That is
natural. The weather conditions, low pressure can help hold the
smoke on the floor, but if the wind is not blowing, you see it
dissipate over four or five minutes. We are going to try and have a look
at one large firework going off, producing the smoke and heading
across the road, to see how thick the smoke can be. As you can see,
we have got the firework going and the smoke is being blown across the
road. It is thick smoke and certainly it does not help having
headlamps on. It is hard to see ahead. This experiment on a
farmer's track is far from scientific and in no way does it
replicate the display on 4th November. Of course, close up,
firework smoke reduces visibility. But, is that what happened on the
night? Those at the display on 4th November offer differing opinions
about smoke and wind direction. There was no smoke. Literally, I
walked away after the fireworks and there was no smoke. It was just fog,
thick fog. The display was a very big, supposedly the biggest in
Somerset and there was a lot of smoke created. The display ran for
15 minutes and afterwards of the smoke stayed around for a long time.
You cannot see some of the pitch. The wind was blowing towards me.
From where I was did, by the grandstand, that is away from the
motorway. It was not drifting. It was holding fast, from what I
understand, so I do not think it too quickly at all. Two opposing
accounts. The police no doubt have many more points of view. Alan
doubts smoke was an issue, but thinks the display itself had the
potential to distract drivers. Would you have done it 200 metres
from the M5? There is perhaps too close. 600 metres away and not have
said was a problem but within 100 metres, Sibly not. And within 200?
A bit too close. The chances are you would not have run a show?
It's a bold admission from Alan. He would not have run a fireworks
display at Taunton Rugby Club. Reports suggest the fireworks had
finished 10 minutes before the crash. The police will have the
final word. They have 30 staff following up 200 lines of inquiry.
A camera near junction 25 may hold vital clues. Smoke and fireworks
remain a significant part of the investigation. The rugby club says
it's working closely with Avon and Somerset Police. I was going to an
event in told the... We joined the Wells MP Tessa Munt back at the
scene of the crash. She too is an eyewitness. She was driving south
on the M5 as the fireball raged. The heat was intense. It was
burning hot. We were all of those lanes away. She wasn't aware of
smoke or fireworks and on reflection, feels sympathy for the
event organisers. If I was part of the rugby club I would feel awful.
It must be so stressful for the people involved in organising this.
So often they are for charity and they are events to raise money for
good causes. I guess, mammals just feel terrible. -- that must adjust.
It will take many weeks for the police to reach their conclusions
but already, the issue of firework safety is under scrutiny once again.
If the investigations show smoke from the despair with energy it is
something we will now get very seriously and we would certainly
incorporate information about that in training corporation -- causes.
We do not want to react quickly to something we do not know about yet.
All of these investigations will no doubt add to the picture.
Some memorials need no explanation - like Sir Francis Drake's statue
on Plymouth Hoe. But Historian Jonathan Foyle has been on the
trail of a lesser known South West curious monuments of the lot
Have you bought an antique and wondered what secrets it might
hold? I love rummaging. On a recent trip, I came across a beautiful old
trunk. It's a fine object in itself, but I probably wouldn't have taken
it home if it hadn't been for the brass plate on the front that said:
John Knill Esq. I didn't have a clue who John Knill was, so I did
what any architectural historian would do in similar circumstances -
I Googled him. He must have been some body! Instructions about the
ceremony around his final resting place... 25th July, a few days'
time. It turns out John Knill was an 18th century lawyer who made his
name in Cornwall. And that's where I'm headed to find out more about
the original owner of my trunk. That his dramatic! Knill's monument
sits on a hilltop overlooking St Ives. Every five years, 10 young
girls lead a procession of townsfolk up here and dance around
the steeple, as its known. It is such a local thing, with local
girls taking part. Use the John Knill wanting to remain in the
memory of people of St Ives longer than is usual. He has done very
well, 200 years. We are still dancing around. Harding has been
Master of Ceremonies at the event for nearly half a century. I'm
desperate to learn more about John Knill and why he deserved a
monument, but I'm not about to find out from him. You need to go to the
archive and do some investigation, frankly. There's an awful lot on
him and it does mean digging. If you really want, have a look,
because they have a lot of information. This is turning into a
bit of a mystery tour! John Knill, biographical sketch. Just what I'm
looking for. 60 years after Knill's death, his nephew, John Jope Rogers,
wrote an account of his life and achievements. It's a mine of
information. John Knill was born in East Cornwall in 1733. He trained
as a lawyer in Penzance and at the age of just 29, became Collector of
Customs and then mayor in St Ives. I'm now off to meet someone who can
tell me about the St Ives that Knill knew and his impact upon the
town. It was very poor fishing village. It had a very limited
harbour. At that time it was only a fraction of the size we have now.
It was through him that we have the street we are standing on now. When
the time he was here, there was a boom in mining and there was always
something to export. There was metal or and produce of the town,
which was also a pilchard station. Brian's account helps us picture St
Ives at the dawn of the industrial revolution. Boats would arrive from
South Wales laden with coal to power with a steam engines driving
their minds are deeper and deeper Underground. -- driving the
coalmines. Pilcher's were being exported to Italy. So this was John
Knill's world for the best part of 20 years. It certainly sounds like
he was a mover and shaker, but how many officials get a 50 foot
monument for two decades of public service? This is where the story
gets interesting. His nephew's account tells us that Knill left St
Ives to continue his legal career in London in 1782. But before he
went, he made plans for his own demise. Now, Knill wasn't keen on
churchyard burials... Apparently he did not like the idea of bodies
being piled up on top of each other, much as what was happening in the
graveyard of St Ives Church, even in his dead. The ground is two
metres above the surrounding lanes. So he chose his own final resting
place up on top of Worvas Hill. His body was to be housed in a tomb at
the foot of a steeple, which he commissioned himself. So there's a
monument to John Knill because he paid for it. Some vanity project!
Knill's vanity didn't end there. He even designed his own memorial
ceremony, to be repeated every five years and paid for out of his will.
He stipulated that 10 young girls should be selected and paid �5 each
- a lot of money back then - and a surefire way to get their parents
involved. After kicking off at the Guildhall, the procession makes its
way up through the streets of the town, on its way to the monument.
Knill said the girls should be the daughters of fishermen, tinners or
seamen. That went by the board a while ago. All the more amazing
when you realise that in the end, Knill wasn't actually buried here.
The tomb is empty. From St Ives to St Paul's. To find out about
Knill's later life and his body's final resting place, I've come back
to London. Knill was very much a man about town, living at the heart
of the city. According to his nephew, Knill spent much of his
time hanging out with writers in Paternoster Row. Sadly it was
destroyed in the Blitz but it was frequented by the likes of Boswell
and Dr Johnson. It must have been extraordinary. I discovered a
poignant ending to John Knill's story. He died in 1811 and was
buried at the church of St Andrew, in Holborn. But the redevelopment
of that site meant his final resting place lay elsewhere,
beneath another monument, but this one doesn't bear his name. Over the
years the bodies were brought here, to London Metropolitan Cemetery. It
strikes me as an irony that Knill was not buried in the monument he
built. He is under this monument in a place he never knew, in a mass
grave. But it's in Cornwall he'll be remembered. His body might not