M5 driver's life 'flashed before his eyes' after yobs dropped sandbag on lorry windscreen

The driver of a lorry that had a sandbag thrown through its windscreen by yobs has told how the experience left him shaken. Paul Hilton, 43, was driving for Eddie Stobart on the M5 near Tewkesbury at around 11pm on October 31 when the incident happened. He said he was driving the lorry at 54mph at the time.

The dad-of-one was travelling from Scotland to Bristol on a job and was about to drive underneath a bridge when he spotted three young lads standing on the bridge. Paul said: “It looked like they were carrying a boulder or a stone, it was difficult to tell.” And what happened next was “a blur”, he said.

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The sandbag was thrown at Paul’s lorry and came through the windscreen, shattering glass across the inside.

“It happened so quickly,” Paul said. “One minute I was driving along, listening to music and thinking about my next job, the next minute a sandbag was coming through the window. “My first thought was ‘oh, bloody hell.'”

“Everything slowed down and I just tried to retain control of the lorry.”

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 M5 driver's life 'flashed before his eyes' after yobs dropped sandbag on lorry windscreenPaul’s windscreen was smashed

Paul was then able to pull over to the hard shoulder and sat there, he says, for “about 20 minutes. I was just in shock.” Paul then dialled 999 and police arrived on the scene shortly after 11pm.

Apart from the shock Paul says he was uninjured by the incident. However, as Paul said: “It could have gone so much differently.” Paul, who is from Greater Manchester, has a son and a grandchild and added: “If I had been in a car then I would have been dead.

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 M5 driver's life 'flashed before his eyes' after yobs dropped sandbag on lorry windscreen

“Or I could have jacknifed and injured another car, another family.”

Paul works as a HGV driver for Eddie Stobart and says the experience has left him “not as confident as I was” and says “it will take a little time to get over it all.” Paul also says he wants his experience to raise awareness about how fatal the incident could have been. “I know the boys who did it probably didn’t mean harm but they don’t realise how much it worse it could have been.

“In a way, I’m glad it was me – if it had been a driver in a car then it would have been a family killed.”

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 M5 driver's life 'flashed before his eyes' after yobs dropped sandbag on lorry windscreenGlass had shattered inside the lorry

PC Tim Griffiths, of Gloucestershire Police, said following the incident: “I’m appealing for the person responsible to come forward. “I suspect this is probably the actions of someone out on Halloween with their friends, probably showing off and messing around, who thought it would be funny to throw the sandbag at the lorry, not thinking about the ramifications of their actions. “I cannot stress in the most serious terms how dangerous it is to do such a stupid thing.

“The lorry driver could have been seriously hurt or even killed.

M5 driver's life 'flashed before his eyes' after yobs dropped sandbag on lorry windscreen

“If he had been rendered unconscious or had lost control of his lorry then we could easily have been dealing with serious injuries or fatalities.”

The group are described as between 15 and 16 years old, quite short and all wearing dark clothing.

Police are urging any witnesses – particularly those with dashcam footage – to come forward.

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