Search

‘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.

Archant

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.

0 comments

Latest News Stories

18:24
Cllr Roger Ramsey

Devolution to east London is set to be discussed today by nine borough bosses, including Havering leader Cllr Roger Ramsey.

Marjorie Tappenden

A pensioner who killed a cyclist was sentenced to a community order today and suspended from driving for three years.

16:35
Lilian Longhurst - 8 and goat

Those who saw a tweet from Romford Shopping Hall asking if it could borrow a goat may have thought they were going baaa-rmy.

15:53
Recorder staff Beth Wyatt and Emma Lake with  judge Michelle Mitchell (centre), First Step's fundraising manager

Recorder staff have teamed up to raise £80 for First Step.

Most read news

WW100

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

News from your area

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Romford Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24
Our trusted business finder

Over £30,000 has been raised in a couple of days for a mugging victim, despite the goal only being set at £500.

We let two experts have their say on why the campaign is needed – or isn’t.

The gunman’s background and motives are still being investigated by the Dutch authorities.