PC who saved van from bridge fall ‘just doing job’

A police officer who clung on to a crashed van to stop it falling from a bridge on to a main road below has said he was “just doing my job”.

PC Martin Willis – known as Motorway Martin – revealed how he found the vehicle upside down and precariously hanging off the edge of a bridge on the A1 over the A64 near Leeds.

He quickly realised the injured driver was trapped inside and the vehicle was swaying due to wind and passing lorries.

The officer clung on to the van for 15 minutes as snow came down around him, until firefighters arrived at the scene.

PC Willis said he had been “overwhelmed” by the public’s response after his tweet about the incident was shared thousands of times.

“I could actually see the van was rocking on top of this bridge,” he said. “It was a bridge right over the A64 so it was quite a steep drop down on to the carriageway below.

“It’s then that it all started sinking in that this is potentially really, really bad. The chance, if this vehicle falls, was that the driver is more than likely going to lose his life.

Martin Willis' picture of himself holding up the van has been retweeted thousands of times. Pic: WYP_PCWillis

Image: Martin Willis’ picture of himself holding up the van has been retweeted thousands of times. Pic: WYP_PCWillis

“So, once I’d realised the enormity of it, it was a case of saying to the driver ‘don’t move’, because any sort of movement by him, potentially, could have made the van go over the bridge.

“Then I thought, I need to steady this van, because every time a lorry’s gone past I needed to hold on the van to keep it steady, to stop it going over the bridge.

“I was just hoping and praying that this van’s not going to go over. You could tell it was balancing.”

PC Willis said he was extremely pleased to see the fire crew arrive.

“I can’t begin to tell you the relief.”

Firefighters secured the van with a winch before working for two hours to cut the driver, who had badly injured legs, from the vehicle.

“It was a bit frightening but that’s what we do”, PC Willis said. “It was another day at the office, really. I was just doing my job.”

He said he did not expect to be hailed a hero and only put pictures on Twitter because he thought it was “a really unusual story – quite a strange one”.

“I had no idea it would generate the interest it has.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the comments from the public because I’m just doing my job at the end of the day. I feel very humble and very overwhelmed by it.”

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He said the family of the “incredibly brave” van driver had been in touch via social media and thanked him.

PC Willis said: “They don’t need to thank me, that’s my job – an ordinary bloke doing an extraordinary job.”