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TV cameras capture the shocking moment when two women, stopped by police walking down the M6, run back onto the motorway and are hit by speeding traffic. For Stockport trucker Andy Fairclough, it's something he'll never forget.
Madness: [pic: BBC One's Traffic Cops]
The footage shown on the BBC One programme Traffic Cops: Dicing with Death (Thursday 25 Sept) is simply staggering. And just when you think it couldn't get any worse, it does.
Andy (right) struggles with the woman
One Saturday afternoon in May 2008, Highways Agency officials alerted police after spotting two women - twin sisters from Sweden - walking down the central reservation of the M6 motorway near Stoke-on-Trent.
Then, as officers challenged the women on the hard shoulder, one of them broke free and deliberately ran onto the carriageway and into the path of the oncoming traffic. Then her sister inexplicably did the same.
“It was completely crazy. It was like watching a live TV show or something."
That was the reaction of Andy Fairclough, 33, from Reddish who, at that moment, was driving up from Devon in his Stockport Removals & Storage Ltd. truck.
CCTV: cameras spot the women
“I’ll never forget it," he said. "When I got there, the artic [articulated lorry] had just hit the first girl – I just remember seeing it jump up as it ran over her.
"And then I looked left and I saw the other girl run out in front of the silver Polo. She just hit the windscreen and flew into the air."
That was shocking enough. What happened next would be simply unbelievable if it hadn’t all been captured on camera.
Aftermath: panic on the motorway
With one of the sisters critical, and the other unconscious after an accident that would kill most people, police called for help while desperately trying to stop the oncoming traffic.
But as the unconscious sister came round, she punched a woman police officer and then ran into the southbound carriageway, before fighting off attempts to restrain her. It took six grown men – including Andy Fairclough – to wrestle her to the ground.
“The strength of the girl was amazing,” he said. “I got booted in the chest for my trouble before I managed to get a good hold of her legs.”
Andy says the TV programme has left his workmates speechless. "They were absolutely gobsmacked,” he said.
Andy's truck with the silver Polo
"I’d told them at the time but, to be honest, I don't think they realised it was that serious. Now they’ve seen it, they're just can’t believe it."
It was a major incident closing the M6 motorway for several hours and involved dozens of police and the air ambulance.
One of the Swedish sisters has since been convicted of assault and spent one day in prison. Her sister has recovered after seven weeks in hospital.
Said Andy: "I’ve been a truck driver for ten years, and I’ve never seen anything like it."
last updated: 06/10/2008 at 10:58