Thursday 8 December 2016

Teacher carried child to safety as seven die in road carnage

Antony Stone

Published 06/11/2011 | 05:00

A general view of the scene on the M5 motorway close to Taunton in Somerset following a 27 vehicle pile-up last night, in which several people were killed and dozens of others injured. Photo: PA
A general view of the scene on the M5 motorway close to Taunton in Somerset following a 27 vehicle pile-up last night, in which several people were killed and dozens of others injured. Photo: PA

A teacher caught up in the fatal M5 crash near Taunton in Somerset, UK, in which seven people died, has described how he carried a baby to safety amid the carnage of cars ploughing into wreckage at 100kmh.

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Thomas Hamell, 25, said he hit a "wall of fog like emulsion paint" and suddenly saw a jack-knifed lorry loom into view.

His girlfriend Katherine Lane, 24, and father George Hamell, 56, were in the Renault Megane, which had luckily just joined the motorway.

As a result, he was able to stop in time as another driver sped by at 100kmh and ploughed into the lorry.

The crash, which happened at about 8.30pm last Friday night, was a "massive fireball".

"We are all lucky to be alive. If we had been one metre to the right we would not be here to tell the tale," he said.

He praised paramedics and described their efforts as "superhuman", but also described the cries of trapped motorists, blocked in their cars as flames engulfed the scene.

In an incident that probably saved their lives, two other lorries jack-knifed behind them, creating what was effectively a safe area. This enabled the three to leave the car and go to the aid of a shocked mother with a young baby.

As they left amid the chaos of cars on fire and still hitting each other, a potentially lethal piece of debris shot over his head.

"It went over my head as I was carrying the lady's baby. We just carried on to a safe distance about 20 metres away."

Mr Hamell said he was still able to see his father's Megane car on TV news reports yesterday, still at the scene and largely intact.

"We were incredibly lucky. The woman who gave [me] her child, her car was wiped out. It was utter carnage."

Mr Hamell, who lives in Wells, Somerset, is a music and drama teacher at Merchants' Academy, a south Bristol secondary school.

He was driving his father's car as his father was unable to take the wheel because he had a broken leg.

They were travelling to Glasgow and intended to return over the weekend after dropping him off.

Sunday Independent

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