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

07:53 31 January 2014

Hero lorry driver Keith Di Palma (pic: Ellie Hoskins)

Hero lorry driver Keith Di Palma (pic: Ellie Hoskins)

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.

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