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Survivor tells of his near miss in Upminster cheese lorry crash

PUBLISHED: 17:00 26 June 2015

Lorry on fire at St Marys's Lane/ M25 Upminster

Lorry on fire at St Marys's Lane/ M25 Upminster

Archant

A driver has spoken of the terrifying moment a lorry careered off an M25 bridge and smashed into his car on the road below.

The lorry carrying a load of cheese crashed just after 11pm last night and caught alight after around 1,000 litres of diesel spilled onto St Mary’s Lane, Upminster. Picture: James Hanford.The lorry carrying a load of cheese crashed just after 11pm last night and caught alight after around 1,000 litres of diesel spilled onto St Mary’s Lane, Upminster. Picture: James Hanford.

Nick Searle, 37, was driving his blue Ford Escort along St Mary’s Lane, Upminster, just after 11pm on Sunday when the articulated lorry, filled with cheese, crashed through a motorway barrier making a “very loud grinding noise”.

“It was getting louder and I thought a plane was about to crash nearby,” said Mr Searle.

“We saw a large number of big, bright golden sparks coming down from above us then a kind of dust blanket descended on the front of the car, which may have been the diesel.

“I couldn’t see anything and then there was a really loud impact to my car. It swerved slightly to the left and the windscreen immediately shattered.

Lorry on fire at St Marys's Lane/ M25 UpminsterLorry on fire at St Marys's Lane/ M25 Upminster

“The car halted and I became worried, waiting for the next hit which luckily never came.”

Mr Searle, who recently moved from Camborne Avenue in Harold Hill to Cornwall, was told by a firefighter that he was very lucky and should buy a lottery ticket.

James Hanford, 40, a director at a koi fish company in St Mary’s Lane, was driving behind the lorry on the M25 when the driver appeared to lose control and it flipped over.

“It was very dramatic,” he said. “There was smoke coming out of the lorry and the driver ahead of me said he heard a loud bang so we thought it must be a blown tyre.

Lorry fire by A13 J of M25 N in UpminsterLorry fire by A13 J of M25 N in Upminster

“I saw the driver wrestling to regain control of the lorry before it flipped over and went down the bank.”

About 1,000 litres of diesel spilled out of the lorry on to St Mary’s Lane.

Twelve hours later the 45ft lorry burst into flames, causing large plumes of smoke to billow over the M25, which was closed in both directions at the height of the blaze.

Three fire engines and 15 firefighters took almost two hours to put the flames out.

The lorry carrying a load of cheese crashed just after 11pm last night and caught alight after around 1,000 litres of diesel spilled onto St Mary’s Lane, Upminster. Picture: James Hanford.The lorry carrying a load of cheese crashed just after 11pm last night and caught alight after around 1,000 litres of diesel spilled onto St Mary’s Lane, Upminster. Picture: James Hanford.

The lorry driver, believed to be Lithuanian, sustained superficial injuries and was taken to hospital as a precaution.

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