Lorry driver honoured for stopping runaway van after man collapsed at wheel

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A lorry driver has been honoured for his life-saving actions after steering into the path of a man who collapsed at the wheel of his van.

Russell Dagless used his vehicle to bring the van to a stop after it had veered into the central reservation of a dual carriageway.

The 53-year-old, from Saxthorpe in Norfolk, has been awarded a Testimonial on Vellum from the Royal Humane Society, for his reactions on the A47 in January.

He said: “It is extremely humbling really. To me, what I did was just an absolute natural reaction to a situation.”

He said it was “absolutely instinct” adding: “You can’t sort of plan on anything like that, can you? It just felt like the right thing to do at the time. The guy was in need of help.”

Recalling his actions, Mr Dagless said: “I pulled up beside (the van) and over the cab of the lorry, I could see that he was collapsed at the wheel, still got his foot on the throttle and no hands on the steering wheel, head resting on the door.

“So basically someone had to do something to stop him. So I just put the trailer up beside him so that he would slow down. He did start to slow quite a bit then. And then I just squeezed him up against the barrier and brought him to a stop so we could get him some medical attention.”

Many of those who stopped to help afterwards were first-aiders and even included an off-duty paramedic, Mr Dagless said.

He described the van driver, who he said he understands has recovered following the incident, as “extremely lucky”.

Praising those who helped, Mr Dagless said: “The young girl, the paramedic who turned up, she was absolutely brilliant, she really did take command of the whole situation.”

He said he had “come across quite a few incidents over the years but nothing as involved as this one”.

According to the society’s website the Testimonial on Vellum is awarded “where someone has put themselves in considerable danger to save, or attempt to save, someone else”.

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