Family thanks workers who helped man get through A14 gridlock to see his mother hours before she died

An artic lorry transporting underwear, including thousands of women’s bras, caught fire on the A14.

An artic lorry transporting underwear, including thousands of women’s bras, caught fire on the A14. Picture: TWITTER / SUFFOLK FIRE - Credit: TWITTER / SUFFOLK FIRE

A Huntingdon man who was desperate to reach Hinchingbrooke Hospital after being told his mother had just hours to live has thanked firefighters and construction workers after they helped him through gridlocked traffic in time to say his goodbyes.

David Bates was at work in Cambridge on Friday when he received a phone call from his wife, Tracy, explaining that his mother Janet Bates, 82, may only have hours to live after being admitted to Hinchingbrooke earlier that week.

On his way to the hospital, however, David found himself stuck in the traffic on the A14 which had been closed in both directions following a lorry fire at about 10.30am.

David said: “On Tuesday, my mum was admitted to hospital with breathing difficulties. We thought that she was doing okay but on Friday we got a phone call from the hospital explaining that she had taken a turn for the worse.

“I was at work in Cambridge when my wife rang me with the news and my boss, Nic Goodchild, told me not to panic and that he would get me there.

“We got onto the A14 then all of a sudden traffic slowed down and we were bumper to bumper. I could see a fire engine behind and trying to get through traffic but couldn’t get thorough. At this point I was panicking as my wife asked how long I was going to be so my boss got out the car and went to a fire engine and spoke to Jonathan Smith.

“Jonathan came and got me from the car and took me across to what will be part of the new A14 and there was a construction vehicle there waiting to take me to see my mum.

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“They whisked me off, passing the lorry fire and dropped me off right at the front of the hospital.

“There were four men that helped and, after a Facebook message from my wife and daughter, we managed to track down all four people involved in helping.

“Without them I may not have got to spend those last precious few hours with my mum. She sadly passed away at 3am on Saturday.”

The 57-year-old now wants to give recognition to the construction workers and firefighter who helped get him to the hospital by highlighting their selfless act to the public.

David was helped by firefighter Jonathan Smith, and construction workers Paul Bird, Danny Oller and Hugo Rebelo, who were working for for the firm CA Blackwell.

Tracy said: “They were amazing, we can’t thank them enough. They didn’t have to do what they did.”