VIDEO: Lorry hitches a lift
A SATELLITE navigation system has been blamed for causing a lorry to get stuck for more than 24 hours in a steep and narrow South East Cornwall lane.
The 40-tonne articulated lorry was lifted 40ft into the air and out of its tight squeeze, between houses, by a specialist crane team at just after 3pm yesterday afternoon.
Residents of Forder, Saltash, gathered to watch the dramatic rescue operation unfold. They have been campaigning to ban lorries from Castle Hill after a number of similar incidents in the past few years.
They claim signs warning that the route is unsuitable for heavy vehicles are not enough and a prohibition needs to be put in place.
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The lorry, belonging to Wiltshire firm D Mortimer and Son, came to rest just inches from the Old Mill in Forder at 12.30pm Thursday.
Owner of the house Glyn Gough, 68, said: “We’ve got to find some way to stop heavy vehicles coming down these lanes. If the driver hadn’t been able to stop it could have been fatal.”
Mr Gough added that he and his neighbours had long suffered damage to their properties as a result of HGVs attempting to traverse the tight bend.
The British driver of the vehicle, Ray Clark, who has worked for the firm for four years, told The Herald his brakes failed and he had to run the cab and trailer against dry stone walls and a hedgerow to slow it down. He has been given two weeks off work.
His boss, Toby Ovens, the son of the owner of the international haulage firm, said the emergency rescue operation would cost the company tens of thousands of pounds. He added that an investigation had been launched but said the brakes were still functioning.
He said: “A SatNav directed him here. It should never have been down here. That combined with a wet road covered in leaves created a dangerous situation.”
Mr Ovens drove the lorry, which had suffered minor damage, back to Wiltshire last night.
Police confirmed that the incident was being treated as a road traffic collision. Sergeant John Frazer said: “An interview was conducted with the driver and witnesses and a decision will be taken as to whether or not any offences are thought to have been committed.”
Telephone and electricity lines had to be taken down, cutting some off in the village for several hours, to make way for the 80-tonne crane to haul the trailer safely over houses and onto a clear stretch of road.
By coincidence Cornwall county councillors and officers met to look at the issue of traffic coming through the village on the day of the accident.
Cllr Joyce Nepsted, for Saltash, said they agreed to look at improving warning signs along the lanes.
A spokeswoman for the council added that if county engineers still thought the road was dangerous, they would apply for a prohibition order to limit the weight or width of vehicles using Castle Hill, but this is a much longer process and would require an application to the Government.