EXCLUSIVE: Police crash driver thanks rescuers
10:07 04 April 2012
Bruce describes terrifying smash at Sticklepath ‘Stones’ roundabout.
"I just shut my eyes, held onto the steering wheel and said my prayers. I thought I was dead."
A DRIVER injured in a collision with a police car has praised rescuers for helping free him from the wreckage.
In an exclusive interview with the Gazette, Bruce Clarke, 59, said it was a ‘miracle’ he survived the smash at the Sticklepath Stones roundabout in Barnstaple.
Mr Clarke was driving a Renault Grand Scenic that eyewitnesses said ‘flipped through the air’ in an incident involving a marked police car.
The Boots worker from Barnstaple said he believes the prayers he said at the moment of impact help spare him and the lives of the police officers involved.
"I don’t blame the police, they were just doing their job."
The chorister was on his way to rehearsals with Barnstaple Male Voice Choir in Fremington when the incident occurred at around 7.30pm on Monday, March 26.
He said: “I’m lucky to be alive. It happened in a flash; I knew I was leaving the ground and I just shut my eyes, held onto the steering wheel and said my prayers. I thought I was dead.”
Mr Clarke was left hanging by his seat beat for an hour-and-a-half as rescuers battled to free him from his overturned mobility vehicle, specially adapted for the rheumatoid arthritis sufferer.
“I was dangling for what seemed an eternity and firefighters and doctors took turns to hold my head,” he said.
"I would like to thank everyone who stopped to help me as it is a miracle that I survived this accident."
“I could feel the seat belts tighten around my ribs and hips and sometimes it felt like the circulation was being cut off to my legs.”
Mr Clarke’s jeans, t-shirt and seat belt all had to be cut from his body. Ironically, the football fan was wearing a Glasgow Rangers shirt with the words ‘We don’t do walking away’ emblazoned on the back.
Luckily for him, after being rushed to hospital on a stretcher board, he managed to do just that only a few days later.
“I have bruising but they won’t be able to tell how serious it is for a couple of weeks,” he said.
Son Derek added: “It is a very big relief to see him walk away from such an horrific accident.
“He had just left my house five minutes before to collect his brand new Rangers shirt which had arrived that morning.
“Unfortunately this was cut off, but rather that than the alternative.”
A police officer is understood to be still recovering from fracture injuries received in the accident, while the driver of the patrol car was treated at the scene for shock.
Mr Clarke said: “I would like to thank everyone who stopped to help me as it is a miracle that I survived this accident.
“I’d particularly like to thank the police officer who came to my assistance immediately after my vehicle came to rest, despite his colleague still being trapped.
“I don’t blame the police, they were just doing their job. The events that happened were just very unfortunate.
“The police have been very good; they couldn’t have been more helpful.”
Following an assessment, the Independent Police Complaints Commission said it had decided not to investigate the case, and had left the incident in the hands of local investigators.
A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall Police said the driver of the police car had been suspended from driving marked police vehicles while an investigation is carried out, in line with normal procedures.
The spokesperson said: “Any incident that involves a police vehicle will be investigated thoroughly to ensure our officers are working within force policy.”