A Good Samaritan was praised after he ran to shops to buy water for motorists stuck on the motorway after a two-lorry smash in sweltering heat.
An apprentice plumber has been hailed as a hero for making the mercy dash after the crash on the M6 south of Lancaster caused massive tailbacks in soaring temperatures.
The man ran over fields to the shops and returned, dripping in sweat, with bottles of water for children who were dehydrating in queuing cars.
“He wouldn’t take any money for the drinks he had bought us,” said a woman on Facebook.
“I was stuck for four hours with a six and one year old in 28 degree heat. It could have been horrendous but the people nearby us were lovely.”
The crash happened at 2.45pm on Thursday between Junction 34 and 33 of the M6 southbound.
An articulated lorry full of garden waste had broken down on the hard shoulder when it was in collision with another lorry towing a bulk tanker full of cement powder.
The cab from the cement HGV was torn from the chassis and landed in Lane 1 whilst the remainder of the HGV and trailer collided with the central reservation and came to a stop in Lane 3.
The bulk tanker was torn open spreading cement powder across all three lanes along with diesel from the fuel tanks.
Both lorry drivers suffered minor injuries.
“Thankfully the driver in the cement HGV was wearing his seatbelt, which has prevented him from being catapulted out of or around his cab and has undoubtedly saved his life,” said Sgt Patrick Worden from the Road Policing Unit.
Following the crash, a massive clean-up operation was held before the road could reopen.
“When diesel (is) spilled in such large quantities, it is extremely dangerous to drive on as it makes the surface slippery,” said Sgt Worden.
“It also rapidly disintegrates the tarmac surface and causes it to break up. Due to this the Highways Agency had no choice but to resurface the damaged section.
“The recycling trailer remained on the hard shoulder but was at risk of toppling over into lane 1.
“Working with the Highways Agency, we closed the M6 south at junction 34 and had to divert everyone through Lancaster along the A6.
“The third lane of the M6 northbound then had to be closed as people were getting out of their vehicles and sitting on the protective central barrier.”
Hundreds of vehicles were trapped between the scene itself and junction 34.
“We had to act quickly to release these vehicles which had travelled several miles past junction 34,” said Sgt Worden.
“In order to do this we brought in three tonnes of sand by escorting it the wrong way down the motorway from junction 33 at Galgate.
“Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service then physically dragged the detached HGV cab out of Lane 1 allowing us to tip and spread the sand on the diesel spillage.
“We then slowly moved all the trapped vehicles over the sand and through the scene to continue their journey.
“Whilst all this was going on other colleagues were handing out van loads of bottled water that had been provided by United Utilities, Sainsburys and Tesco.
“The heat was searing and there were thousands of people in the tailback queuing to leave the M6 at the junction 34 closure.
“Colleagues in Lancaster were manually operating the traffic lights in order to get as many vehicles through Lancaster as fast as possible enabling them to rejoin the M6 at junction 33 Galgate.
“I would like to thank everyone that was involved in this major incident and also all of the stranded members of the public who were understanding and good humoured.”
Staff from Lancaster City Council also supplied water to thirsty motorists.
The wrecked HGVs and their loads were finally recovered in the early hours of Friday morning.
Contractors worked during the night and all three lanes were resurfaced and open again by 8am.
An investigation is under way to find out the cause of the collision.
*The Visitor understands the helpful plumber is called Adam and works for R.N Bradshaw Plumbers of Galgate. If you are Adam or know him please contact The Visitor newsdesk on 01524 385923 or email firstname.lastname@example.org