British police officer praised for holding on to van dangling off bridge
Martin Willis, seen here, kept a van from falling off the edge of a bridge with his bare hands. (@WYP_PCWILLIS / Twitter)
Published Tuesday, December 5, 2017 2:03PM EST
A highway patrol officer in England is being hailed as a hero for single-handedly clinging onto a van to keep it from falling off a bridge.
Martin Willis, a roads policing officer with the West Yorkshire Police, physically held onto a van that teetered on the edge of an icy bridge with the driver trapped inside.
The police force says there were several collisions at the scene when Willis arrived in the early hours of Dec. 1, including the van that crashed through the barrier and leaned off the edge of the bridge.
“I just saw this van on top of the bridge through the railings and contacted control to say: ‘I’ve got to stop here, this looks very serious,'” Willis said in a police news release.
“I told the victim not to panic and said: ‘We’re going to get you out of there, whatever you do, don’t move,' I then grabbed hold of the rear wheel and pulled inwards which helped to keep the van balanced. I was there for a good 15 minutes.”
Once firefighters arrived, they began to rescue the driver inside. The operation took more than two hours, according to West Yorkshire Police.
The driver inside, a 22-year-old man from Bolton, England, was taken to hospital where he’s being treated for serious leg injuries.
Since the incident, the man known as “Motorway Martin” on Twitter, has received hundreds of messages from people thanking him for his actions that day.
"I was only doing my job, but feel very honoured to receive so much praise,” he tweeted.
Mike Green, a spokesman for the West Yorkshire Police, wrote in an email that Willis has been “very surprised” by the public reaction following the rescue.
“(He) maintains he was just doing his job and that putting yourself at risk to help others is part and parcel of being a police officer,” Green wrote.
1st on the scene of this collision on the #A1M this morning and faced with a vehicle balancing over the edge of a bridge with the driver trapped! After holding on to the vehicle to stop it swaying in the wind I can't begin to desribe my relief when @WYFRS arrived on scene! pic.twitter.com/E8ilktlOl7— Motorway Martin (@WYP_PCWILLIS) December 1, 2017