John Tomlinson keeps his HGV licence after his lorry pushed vet
By Mike Laycock – Chief reporter
A Tanker driver who drove along a motorway with the car of a York vet trapped in front of his cab has been exonerated.
Half a million people have viewed a video clip on YouTube showing Mr Tomlinson’s 40-tonne tanker pushing Rhona Williams’ Renault Clio at high speed along the A1 (M) near Wetherby.
She has told previously how she thought she was going to die as she was shunted along sideways at 60mph.
But John Tomlinson was praised for being “cool and calm” in a crisis during a Traffic Commission hearing to decide if he should keep his HGV licence.
The accident happened when the Clio driver attempted to undertake Mr Tomlinson’s tanker in an “ill-advised” manoeuvre, the hearing before North West Traffic Commissioner Beverley Bell was told.
Mr Tomlinson’s solicitor Sean Joyce said the vet was joining the south-bound carriageway at junction 44 when the incident happened in January.
“She saw Mr Tomlinson’s HGV in the middle lane as she came off a slip road on to the carriageway. She was effectively performing an undertaking manoeuvre as she joined the lane.”
Ms Williams told police she felt a “bump” as the vehicles came together and her car pivoted 90 degrees.
The lorry driver remained unaware of the incident and continued driving until a motorist in a 4×4 pulled ahead of the vehicles and began flashing his hazard lights.
Mr Joyce said: “Mr Tomlinson remains unable to offer any explanation simply because he was unaware of the collision.
“Taking into account he was driving a 44-tonne tanker, the Clio is a relatively small car.
“He was sat high up in the tractor unit which was extremely well insulated. He simply did not hear anything, see anything, or feel anything.”
Mr Tomlinson, from Clitheroe, Lancashire, brought his lorry to a stop on the hard shoulder and only became aware of Ms Williams in the Clio when he got out of the vehicle.
He tried to free her but the door was jammed so he reversed his tanker about three feet to release the car.
Both drivers luckily emerged without injury and the collision was initially treated as a “damage only” incident by West Yorkshire Police but the investigation was re-opened after the YouTube clip came to light in March.