Driver, 53, jailed after a steam engine falls from truck

  • Philip Last, 53, was driving through West Mersea, Essex, when he braked hard
  • A canvas strap securing the 1920s engine snapped and crushed the bus driver
  • Michael Birch suffered a punctured lung but miraculously survived the crash
  • Last, of Great Yarmouth, was jailed for 18 months at Ipswich Crown Court

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Philip Last, 53, of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, was jailed for 18 months after a poorly secured six-ton steam engine from the 1920s fell from his truck and smashed into a crowded bus

Philip Last, 53, of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, was jailed for 18 months after a poorly secured six-ton steam engine from the 1920s fell from his truck and smashed into a crowded bus

A lorry driver has been jailed after a poorly secured six-ton vintage steam engine fell from his truck and smashed into a crowded bus.

Five passengers and the bus driver suffered serious injuries in the incident on a narrow country road.

Lorry driver Philip Last, 53, was jailed for 18 months after he admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

He had used canvas straps ‘as a shortcut’ instead of chains to secure the 1920s engine to his low loader after a steam rally, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

As he drove through West Mersea, Essex, in September 2015 he braked hard to avoid the single decker bus.

One strap snapped and the steam engine toppled on to the bus, crushing the driver Michael Birch, who suffered injuries including a punctured lung and fractured hip.

Five of the 34 passengers also suffered serious injuries. Peter Gair, prosecuting, said: ‘As soon as the load was fixed, this was an accident waiting to happen.’

Harry Warner, defending, said Last, of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, ‘has shown genuine remorse and is horrified that his actions led to the injuries they did’.

Five of the 34 passengers suffered serious injuries and the vintage engine crushed bus driver Michael Birch, who suffered a punctured lung and a fractured hip. But Mr Birch miraculously survived

Five of the 34 passengers suffered serious injuries and the vintage engine crushed bus driver Michael Birch, who suffered a punctured lung and a fractured hip. But Mr Birch miraculously survived

Judge David Goodin also banned Last from driving for 21 months, telling the father of two: ‘Your gross carelessness and negligence had grave consequences. You took a shortcut.

You knew it was a shortcut.’

As a result of the incident, First bus driver Michael Birch suffered a protruding bowel, two broken shoulders, a broken arm, a punctured lung and a fractured pelvis.

He miraculously survived his injuries but is still undergoing surgery 17 months later.

At the time of the incident, Last had been employed by RM Cowles Transport for six years.

Paramedics said a combination of Mr Birch’s small build and the fact he was driving an older bus, which had a bigger cab, helped save his life.

Speaking five months after his injuries, Mr Birch said: ‘I remember waking up and the bus was a mess.

Bus driver Michael Birch survived the crash but is still undergoing surgery 17 months later. He had seven oprations including a skin graft from his thigh on to his right hand

Bus driver Michael Birch survived the crash but is still undergoing surgery 17 months later.

He had seven oprations including a skin graft from his thigh on to his right hand

‘I looked down and saw my stomach and then I blacked out.’

Mr Birch was in hospital for a month and underwent seven operations including a skin graft from his thigh on to his right hand and using a piece of his hip bone to repair his index finger.

In a statement read out to the court, Last, of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, said: ‘I am genuinely and truly sorry for the awful consequences which resulted from his failure to ensure the low loader was properly secured that day.’

References

  1. ^ e-mail (www.dailymail.co.uk)

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