Driver dies after lorry plunges from bridge in Essex
A driver has died after his lorry plunged from a bridge and burst into flames, police have said.
The vehicle veered off Colemans Bridge onto the southbound carriageway of the A12 in Witham, Essex, on Wednesday afternoon.
Essex Police have confirmed the driver, a man in his 30s, was pronounced dead shortly after the incident which happened at around 3.45pm.
The force said his next of kin have been informed.
Essex Police advised commuters who would usually drive southbound between Marks Tey and Witham South to re-plan their rush-hour journeys, warning that the road will be closed until at least lunchtime.
A spokesman said a "multi-agency recovery operation is ongoing, due to the nature of the load carried by the lorry".
He added: "Officers are investigating the circumstances leading up to the collision and would appeal for anyone who saw what may have happened who has not already contacted police to get in touch."
Five crews from Essex Fire and Rescue, police officers and an air ambulance attended the scene, along with the East of England Ambulance Service.
Joe McCallum, from Essex, arrived in his van on the other side of the carriageway immediately after the crash and said part of the lorry container was on fire.
A photo he posted on Twitter showed a crumpled vehicle on the barriers of the carriageway below, spilling over into the road.
The 28-year-old said he believed it was a lorry carrying frozen goods, but he could not see anything more due to its "mangled" state.
He said he could not see anybody in the cab following the accident, which forced the closure of the A12 both ways between junction 19 at Boreham and junction 25 by Marks Tey.
The northbound side was later reopened.
Chloe Willis (20) was in a car travelling to a hockey match with friends and "about five seconds away" from the accident.
The psychology student told the Press Association "black smoke covered the sky" as the lorry caught fire.
She said: "We had to come to an emergency stop as soon as we saw this lorry turned on its side.
"A big puff of black smoke covered the sky and all the people in cars started to panic.
"You could see where the barriers on the bridge had broken when the lorry had come through."
Ms Willis said the emergency service response was "pretty instant" with numerous fire engines and police vehicles arriving swiftly.
Essex Police appealed for drivers who may have witnessed the accident or have dash cam footage to contact the force on 101.