PC Martin Willis was on his way to another reported collision when he spotted the overturned Iveco van on a bridge at junction 44 near Bramham, above the A64, shortly before 6am on Friday.
PC Willis, aged 50 and from Bradford, risked his own life to save that of the prone driver by holding tight the vehicle’s rear axle for 15 minutes to stop it swaying in the wind. His intervention bought time for emergency services to arrive.
Speaking earlier today, PC Willis said: “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing at first. Where the passenger’s side was there was a big hole where it had hit the barrier and I could see someone’s legs. I could tell that they were really badly broken.
“I shouted through, ‘just stay there, we are going to get help to help you out’.
“Vehicles were going past and it was quite windy so the vehicle was actually rocking and I’m thinking this could go over onto the A64. It’s about a 40ft drop and it’s going to kill the driver and people travelling underneath as well.
“I thought the only thing I can do is try and steady it. I said to the driver, ‘whatever you do, don’t move’.
“Our main priority is to save life and limb. That’s what you do and the health and safety rule book goes out the window.”
The brave PC added: “I’ve been working on motorways for ten years now and I’ve never come across anything like that before and hopefully I will never have to again.”
RESCUED DRIVER’S GRATITUDE
The van driver has now been named as 25-year-old Thomas Dulson.
After PC Willis came to the rescue, firefighters spent two hours making the van safe and freeing Mr Dulson who was rushed to Leeds General Infirmary with two broken legs.
Posting on Facebook from his hospital bed, Mr Dulson said “without all those emergency services I wouldn’t be here to type this message”.
Speaking outside the family home in Bolton, his mum Frances Dulson said: “We are looking at a good couple of weeks until he is considered well enough to return home.”