Steeton trucker is blaze hero

Hero truck driver Mark Hancock

the smouldering remains of the lorry, right, from which he rescued the injured driver

First published in Keighley

A life-saving trucker who braved a blazing lorry and exploding cargo to rescue a stricken driver from his cab has spoken of the moment he leapt into action.

Mark Hancock came across the horrific aftermath of a motorway crash, being alerted by a plume of black smoke pouring from a lorry that had careered off the carriageway and down a steep embankment.

The articulated lorry’s cab had been ripped away from the vehicle and the driver was still inside. The cargo of fertiliser erupted into an inferno.

Despite the risk, Mr Hancock, of Steeton, led rescue efforts after spotting the driver’s hand emerge from a window following the crash, where the M62 and M180 motorways merge in East Yorkshire.

He was able to haul the casualty through a cab window as part of the cargo exploded only feet away.

Other motorists then helped carry the injured man away from danger.

The driver, who works for Halifax-based heavy haulage firm Collett, said: “As I came off the M62 I could see a cloud of black smoke. I stopped my vehicle and looked down. I couldn’t believe what I saw.

“Everything was on fire except the cab, which was detached. I thought no way was anyone going to survive that, but then suddenly I saw a hand come out of the window.

“I rushed down the embankment. I saw the driver – he was lying across the cab. He was shouting at me, ‘get me out of here, get me out of here’. I think he could feel the heat and was worried he was going to burn.

“He was a really big bloke. I couldn’t have moved him on my own so was fortunate I was soon joined by two more chaps.”

A group of five rescuers eventually hauled the driver clear to safety.

Mr Hancock’s boss, Phil Sutcliffe, praised his actions. He said: “He’s one of our top drivers. He’s a great ambassador for our company. It’s tremendous what he’s done.

“We’re very proud of him and he deserves some recognition.”

It is believed the crash was caused by a blow-out on one of the lorry tyres.

The Yorkshire Air Ambulance was called in, along with fire crews and specialist appliances.

The incident, on May 8, caused massive traffic disruption in the area.

The lorry driver involved is understood to have escaped with a broken shoulder, cuts and bruises.

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