Man injured when lorry overturns appeals for witnesses

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Man injured when lorry overturns appeals for witnesses

31st May 2011

The young man left badly injured when a runaway lorry dramatically crashed and flipped over in Woolacombe is appealing for witnesses to come forward.

Wayne Phipps, from Barnstaple, was lucky to escape with his life when he had to jump from the 7½ tonne recycling lorry as it careered downhill towards a wall - with no-one behind the wheel. Mr Phipps, 30, is still in a great deal of pain and is unable to walk without using a crutch. He has also been left severely traumatised by the incident, which happened just after 2pm on Tuesday, 17 May.

Speaking for the first time since his terrifying ordeal, Mr Phipps, 30, said he is constantly on edge and the slightest bang or loud noise makes him jump and his heart race. "The truck was parked on Sandy Lane, close to the Woolacombe Bay holiday village, and I was stood in the back sorting bottles into different recycling containers as part of my job," said Mr Phipps. "The next thing I knew I could feel the lorry moving and my colleagues were shouting at me to get out.

"I leaned out of the truck and looked into the cab," he said. "I couldn't believe it when I saw there was nobody driving. It was like something out of a movie. People were shouting at me to jump and the houses on either side of the street were whizzing by as we raced down the hill."

Mr Phipps said he saw the lorry was heading towards a wall at the bottom of the hill and had no option but to jump from the speeding vehicle. "I remember diving off, but then the next thing I remember is lying in the road and watching as the truck crashed and flipped over," he said. "I was in a lot of pain, but I was just glad to be alive."

He was taken by ambulance to North Devon District Hospital where he received treatment for injuries to his entire left side including his groin, hip, thigh, knee, back, arm and hand. He also sustained a blow to the back of the head, and an abdominal injury which led to internal bleeding.

Damian Bradley
, the specialist lawyer representing Mr Phipps, is now hoping anyone who witnessed the incident will come forward with vital information.

"Wayne still uses a crutch and is covered in purple bruises down the left side of his body," said Mr Bradley, a serious injury expert with Fentons Solicitors LLP. "But as well as the catalogue of physical injuries, Wayne is also struggling to deal with the effects of a significant psychological trauma. He is suffering from flashbacks, playing over in his mind the events as he jumped from the truck and watched it crash and flip over," he said. "He struggles to get to sleep, suffers nightmares when he does sleep, and even when he's awake during the daytime he is terrified whenever he hears any kind of loud noise.

"We're hoping to secure physiotherapy for Wayne shortly, as well as professional help with his post-traumatic stress," he said. "However in order to secure Wayne the care he will need, we are urging anyone with information about the incident to come forward."

Mr Bradley said that because an investigation was ongoing, police were not allowed to release any witness accounts of the incident to Mr Phipps and his lawyers. "There were several people in the area who saw the incident unfold," he said. "We're asking anyone who saw the lorry hurtling down the hill, or saw Wayne jumping from it and landing on the road, to please get in touch. We are particularly keen to locate a witness who has said they saw Wayne 'bouncing on the road' as he landed.

"All information will be treated in the strictest confidence, and any detail could be hugely important to Wayne's case," he said.

Can you help?
If you remember seeing the incident on Sandy Lane in Woolacombe, shortly after 2pm on Tuesday 17 May, or if you have information which you think might help, please contact Damian Bradley at Fentons Solicitors LLP on 0161 238 6435. Alternatively please e-mail