A Good Samaritan has spoken of how he and other passers-by risked their lives trying to pull a man out of a flaming car stuffed with fireworks after a police pursuit ended in a horror crash in Whitwell.
Paul Gray was on his way from work at Explore Transport when he was caught up in the smash, which happened around 5pm on the A619 on Friday, June 28.
The 43-year-old was driving home when he witnessed a Land Rover Discovery, which was being pursued by a South Yorkshire police car, plough head-on into a grey Honda carrying a male motorist.
Paul, who pulled up at the side of the road and rushed towards the Honda, said: “It was carnage. The dashboard had impacted so heavily on the driver that he was completely crushed inside the vehicle and there was a lot of blood.
“The car then burst into flames and another man who’d been trying to help shouted over that the boot was stuffed with fireworks.
“Unfortunately, it was soon clear we weren’t going to be able to get him out. He was totally trapped.”
While Paul tried to calm the driver, who was seriously injured and drifting in and out of consciousness, the race was on to empty the boot and put the fire out.
“Thank god, someone had the thought process to run to the nearby Half Moon pub and ask for a fire extinguisher and were kindly given one,” said Paul.
“On colliding with the Land Rover, the back of the Honda also hit another car carrying a young family, including two small girls. They weren’t seriously hurt but looked very shaken up and were screaming, so they were taken down to the pub as well. I have to say the pub staff were brilliant.”
By the time the Emergency Services arrived, a passing doctor was tending to the injured driver.
“It took a good hour for firefighters to free him,” added Paul. “And finally he was airlifted to hospital.”
The man driving the Honda suffered multiple serious injuries and remains in a critical condition.
The driver of the Land Rover suffered minor injuries, but the passenger was unhurt.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct confirmed they were investigating the actions of police officers prior to the crash while South Yorkshire Police conduct a parallel criminal investigation.
Miranda Biddle, regional director of the IOPC, said: “We attended the incident on Friday evening and we are currently assessing the evidence obtained so far, which includes dash cam footage, radio communications and witness accounts. We have also been in touch with the family of the man who was driving the Honda to explain our involvement, and will keep them informed as our investigation progresses.”