Stranded M6 drivers praise the kindness of strangers

The crash near junction 34 of the M6

The crash near junction 34 of the M6

First published in News
Last updated
The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A NEW mother’s nine- hour nightmare on a gridlocked motorway was eased thanks to acts of kindness from strangers.

When a cement truck crashed into a HGV near juntion 34 of the M6 it caused a 30-mile traffic jam.

The road had to be resurfaced and was not completely open again until 8am the next day.

In the searing 30 degree heat, Shelley Ruck, her mother Denise and her eight-month-old baby, George, were stranded with only one bottle of milk remaining.

After three hours Shelley realised the situation was serious when she saw police escorting a van through the traffic handing out water to desperate drivers.

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“There were people fainting, cars were running out of petrol and breaking down, there was an old lady who had to be taken away in an ambulance because of the heat and tensions among other drivers began to run high,” said Shelley. “It was really horrific. If George had woken up I would have had no milk and it would have been dire.”

The situation seemed hopeless, but then help came from above.

A group of people gathered on a motorway bridge and asked the stranded mother if she needed help.

“What happened next was the kindest thing that anyone could have done,” said Shelley.

The strangers drove for 20 minutes to the nearest shop and came back with a box of milk powder, two sterilised bottles filled with boiling water and a bottle of spring water which they lowered down from the bridge using a jerry can.

“It was absolutely unbelievable,” said Shelley.

“They saved us. My baby would have been hungry if it were not for their amazing thoughtfulness and kindness. It turned out we were stuck without moving until 11pm, sitting in darkness until we could finally move and start to make our way home (to Warrington).

“I don’t know who they were; I don’t know the exact location of the bridge but thank God they were there to help. I want to give them a massive thank you. What they did was unimaginable.

“They went to the trouble to go and get all that stuff which must have cost about £20, and they wouldn’t even take any money off me because they were concerned about the baby. Hopefully they will read this and know they were appreciated.”

Other drivers also spoke of ‘true British spirit shining through the chaos’.

Matthew Jones, 21, was stranded in the tailbacks at junction 36 near Kendal.

He saw a farmer come to a fence and help people into his field so they could relieve themselves.

Matthew, a politics student from Cheshire, said he also saw drivers of heavy goods vehicles manoeuvre their vehicles at an angle to provide much-needed shade to hot, dehydrated people stranded in the glaring sun.

“Everyone pulled together,” said Matthew. “We were all in a terrible position. I didn’t have anything to eat or drink in the car but people who did have bottles of water or food were handing them around. Nobody knew anybody else. There were strangers helping strangers in their hours of need.”

The crash happened about 2.40pm last Thursday A spokesperson for the Highways Agency said: “It’s not unusual in these circumstances for the diesel and oil to damage the top layer of the carriageway and that makes it unsafe for drivers to carry on driving.

“We would like to thank drivers for their patience in what was a very long and protracted incident. We worked hard to inform people from 3pm onwards.”

Comments (8)

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12:17pm Thu 31 Jul 14

davidearnshaw says...

Truly amazing acts of kindness and resourcefullness along the "plug" of stranded motorists / HGV drivers.
One has to question the apparent inability of "motorway managers = police and highway officials" to have put some form of planned and practised rescue / vehicle evacuation plan into operation ; it must have been apparent very soon that the road was going to be closed for many hours, so why was the trapped traffic not able to be released by a turn around plan -- one by one to the previous slip road entry ----- it was not a case of having to deal with fast moving traffic on the blocked section ---- ok , it may have had to been a slow process and carefully managed, but it has been done before on Motorways when incidents have necessitated closure for 12 + hours; was a Major Incident plan put into operation ?? especially with potential health issues in the excessive heat ----- there are plenty of voluntary rescue organisations in the area to have assisted ------ I hope some lessons have been learned from this incident.
Truly amazing acts of kindness and resourcefullness along the "plug" of stranded motorists / HGV drivers. One has to question the apparent inability of "motorway managers = police and highway officials" to have put some form of planned and practised rescue / vehicle evacuation plan into operation ; it must have been apparent very soon that the road was going to be closed for many hours, so why was the trapped traffic not able to be released by a turn around plan -- one by one to the previous slip road entry ----- it was not a case of having to deal with fast moving traffic on the blocked section ---- ok , it may have had to been a slow process and carefully managed, but it has been done before on Motorways when incidents have necessitated closure for 12 + hours; was a Major Incident plan put into operation ?? especially with potential health issues in the excessive heat ----- there are plenty of voluntary rescue organisations in the area to have assisted ------ I hope some lessons have been learned from this incident. davidearnshaw
  • Score: 19

1:53pm Thu 31 Jul 14

magical trevor says...

Good to see there's always an expert on hand!
Good to see there's always an expert on hand! magical trevor
  • Score: -2

7:29pm Thu 31 Jul 14

ELBEAN says...

Breast is best.
Breast is best. ELBEAN
  • Score: -5

9:57pm Thu 31 Jul 14

Bill Woodall says...

Not to trivialise the incident and I may well be missing something that explains this but why, if others were able to "drive for 20 minutes to the nearest shop" to fetch supplies for this woman could they not let her and her baby get in the car too and take them to somewhere more comfortable?
Not to trivialise the incident and I may well be missing something that explains this but why, if others were able to "drive for 20 minutes to the nearest shop" to fetch supplies for this woman could they not let her and her baby get in the car too and take them to somewhere more comfortable? Bill Woodall
  • Score: -2

10:44am Fri 1 Aug 14

jd@jdifa.co.uk says...

Drivers who cause crashes and so much cost and inconvenience for others should be banned for life.

Some years ago when held up by a crash on the A1M in North East, police, having stopped any more traffic entering the section got all the cars to turn around and go back the the junction where they could leave the motorway.
Drivers who cause crashes and so much cost and inconvenience for others should be banned for life. Some years ago when held up by a crash on the A1M in North East, police, having stopped any more traffic entering the section got all the cars to turn around and go back the the junction where they could leave the motorway. jd@jdifa.co.uk
  • Score: 2

10:33pm Fri 1 Aug 14

shirtbox says...

Lowered down in a jerry can?
Lowered down in a jerry can? shirtbox
  • Score: -1

10:35pm Fri 1 Aug 14

shirtbox says...

jd@jdifa.co.uk wrote:
Drivers who cause crashes and so much cost and inconvenience for others should be banned for life.

Some years ago when held up by a crash on the A1M in North East, police, having stopped any more traffic entering the section got all the cars to turn around and go back the the junction where they could leave the motorway.
Excellent solution,should be applied everywhere.
[quote][p][bold]jd@jdifa.co.uk[/bold] wrote: Drivers who cause crashes and so much cost and inconvenience for others should be banned for life. Some years ago when held up by a crash on the A1M in North East, police, having stopped any more traffic entering the section got all the cars to turn around and go back the the junction where they could leave the motorway.[/p][/quote]Excellent solution,should be applied everywhere. shirtbox
  • Score: -1

9:50am Sat 2 Aug 14

Gingery says...

Bill Woodall wrote:
Not to trivialise the incident and I may well be missing something that explains this but why, if others were able to "drive for 20 minutes to the nearest shop" to fetch supplies for this woman could they not let her and her baby get in the car too and take them to somewhere more comfortable?
Because the people driving to the shop were up on a motorway bridge and the woman and baby were down on the carriageway. I suppose they could have climbed up the embankment!
[quote][p][bold]Bill Woodall[/bold] wrote: Not to trivialise the incident and I may well be missing something that explains this but why, if others were able to "drive for 20 minutes to the nearest shop" to fetch supplies for this woman could they not let her and her baby get in the car too and take them to somewhere more comfortable?[/p][/quote]Because the people driving to the shop were up on a motorway bridge and the woman and baby were down on the carriageway. I suppose they could have climbed up the embankment! Gingery
  • Score: 3

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