Win £1,000 with Camelot. See this week's Recorder

On sale October 16

‘It could have been fatal’ Elm Park lorry driver prevents tragedy

07:41 31 January 2014

Hero Lorry driver Keith De Palm.

Hero Lorry driver Keith De Palm.


A hero lorry driver is credited with helping avoid a tragedy by shadowing a driver travelling the wrong way on a busy motorway for 10 miles and flashing warnings to oncoming traffic.

Keith Di Palma, 45, was driving his articulated truck when, to his horror, he spotted a car driving in the same direction as him – but on the other side of the carriageway.

Within seconds he devised a plan to warn oncoming drivers in an attempt to stop a deadly pile-up.

“I could see headlights on the wrong side of the carriageway,” said the father-of-two, of Diban Avenue, Elm Park. “I saw cars swerving out of the way so I started flashing my lights to get the driver’s attention.”

For about 10 miles Keith and another driver, who realised what he was doing and joined in to help, flashed their lights continually side-by-side as a warning to oncoming vehicles.

They drove level to the car on the wrong side of the motorway and, through various signals, managed to get the elderly driver to reduce his speed from 60mph to 30mph.

“There were a few near misses,” said Keith.

The cars behind Keith and the other van driver stayed well back so they would not block their signals to the oncoming cars.

The nerve-wracking ordeal, last week, came to an end when police closed off the southbound carriageway of the M6 near Coventry bringing the driver to a halt.

Keith, a Tigers Junior FC chairman, said. “He was taken to hospital and they said he had a serious medical condition.”

A tweet to Keith from Central Motorway Police Group praised his actions and that he had “certainly helped” to “avoid a tragedy”.

Keith, who works at Ford in Dagenham, said he would like to meet the van driver to say thank you for his help.


Latest News Stories

Released CCTV images.

CCTV images have been released of two youths police would like to identify after a 12-year-old boy was threatened in a subway in Romford.

Ben with one of his furniture designs

An innovative Hornchurch designer has been chosen to showcase his work at one of the world’s top design events.

Straight Road, Romford

Detectives are appealing for information after a man was slashed across his face when he answered a knock on his door.

The Ferry Lane roundabout. Picture: Google StreetView

The director of a haulage firm that was a “very severe risk” to road safety has been banned from the industry for five years.

Yesterday, 17:16
Broadford Primary School.

A man has been arrested on suspicion of making a racist rant a Harold Hill primary school.

Yesterday, 15:46
Dagnam Park Drive Picture: Google Maps

A consultation has been launched by Havering Council into whether Dagnam Park Drive should become a 20mph zone as part of a series of proposed safety improvements for the road.

Yesterday, 14:04
Cllr Keith Prince is the Conservative candidate for Redbridge and Havering in the London Assembly elections

Born and bred in Havering and a former Redbridge council leader, Keith Prince, wants to stand up for the two boroughs.

Yesterday, 12:53
Perri's receipt shows the charge for womens clothes at the top

Most shoppers have accepted the 5p charge for plastic bags in supermarkets, but £12 for four of them is another story.

Breaking News

Yesterday, 08:19

Ernest Jones in The Liberty Shopping centre was broken into this morning.

Read more

Most read news

News from your area


Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.


Amazon: Everything you want to buy all in one place!

With £1,500 to spend online at Amazon, there’s really nothing you can’t buy.

You'll be stocked up on toiletries  for a while!

Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more.

Digital Edition

Read the Romford Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder