'I was just doing my job' says UK police officer who clung to crashed van to stop it falling from a bridge

A police officer who clung on to a crashed van to stop it falling from a bridge on to a road below has said: "I was just doing my job."

'I was just doing my job' says UK police officer who clung to crashed van to stop it falling from a bridge

A police officer who clung on to a crashed van to stop it falling from a bridge on to a road below has said: "I was just doing my job."

Pc Martin Willis said he has been "overwhelmed" by the public's response to his actions, after his tweet about the incident near Leeds on Friday morning was shared thousands of times.

Pc Willis - known as Motorway Martin - described how he came across the van upside-down and teetering on the edge of a bridge carrying the A1 over the A64.

After realising the injured driver was trapped inside and spotting how the wrecked vehicle was swaying with the wind and passing lorries, the officer clung on to it for 15 minutes in snowy and icy conditions until firefighters arrived.

"I could actually see the van was rocking on top of this bridge," Pc Willis said.

"It was a bridge right over the A64 so it was quite a steep drop down on to the carriageway below.

"It's then that it all started sinking in that this is potentially really, really bad. The chance, if this vehicle falls, was that the driver is more than likely going to lose his life.

"So, once I'd realised the enormity of it, it was a case of saying to the driver 'don't move', because any sort of movement by him, potentially, could have made the van go over the bridge.

"Then I thought, I need to steady this van, because every time a lorry's gone past I needed to hold on the van to keep it steady, to stop it going over the bridge."

Pc Willis said: "I was just hoping and praying that this van's not going to go over. You could tell it was balancing."

The officer said he was very pleased to see the fire crew. "I can't begin to tell you the relief," he said.

The firefighters secured the van, which was carrying fruit and vegetables, with a winch.

It then took the combined emergency services about two hours to cut the driver, who had badly injured legs, from the vehicle.

Pc Willis said: "It was a bit frightening but that's what we do.

"It was another day at the office really. I was just doing my job."

He said it was "one of the strangest and scariest" incidents in his 10 years of policing Yorkshire's motorways.

And he said he tried not to think about how close he was to being "wiped out" by passing traffic or if the van had gone over with him.

Asked about the social media reaction, Pc Willis said: "I didn't expect to be hailed a hero at all. I put the pictures on because I thought it was a really unusual story - quite a strange one.

"I had no idea it would generate the interest it has.

"I've been overwhelmed by the comments from the public because I'm just doing my job at the end of the day. I feel very humble and very overwhelmed by it."

He said the family of the "incredibly brave" van driver had been in touch via social media and thanked him.

Pc Willis said: "They don't need to thank me, that's my job - an ordinary bloke doing an extraordinary job."

More in this section

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox