Hit-and-run man left me to die

A man has told of his dramatic fight for life after a hit-and-run driver sent his car plunging into a water-filled ditch, leaving him trapped as water gushed in.

A man has told of his dramatic fight for life after a hit-and-run driver sent his car plunging into a water-filled ditch, leaving him trapped as water gushed in.

Neil Chapman, 27, was left with just an inch of air to breathe in after the crash on the A149 Wells to Cromer Road.

As his car sank rapidly into the ditch, the driver who hit him seconds earlier fled the scene and Mr Chapman was only saved when a group of holidaymakers heard his cries for help and were able to rescue him.

The crash happened at about 2pm on July 5, near Cley.

Mr Chapman, a self-employed electrician of Longlands Drive, Wymondham, said today that he was extremely lucky to be alive and could not believe someone would leave him to die.

“I was coming up to the nature reserve and saw someone ready to pull out, but assumed they would wait. But the car pulled out and as I tried to swerve to avoid it, he hit the back of me, flipping the car up into the air.

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“The next thing I knew I was in total darkness. I knew I was in water and I had about an inch of space where I put my lips so I could breathe. The weird thing is I wasn't panicking at first. It was very peaceful and surreal and I knew exactly what was going on.

“I was sinking but I assumed the driver of the car that hit me would call the emergency services and come to help me, but there was nothing.”

After about five minutes, and as the water continued to rise, Mr Chapman started shouting. A few minutes later, someone dived into the water and tried to open the driver's door.

It would not open so Mr Chapman used his last remaining strength to open the lock on the back door so the other person could open it.

“I saw a lot of people and emergency services; then I was airlifted to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. I hardly had any injuries, just a few cuts, but the scary thing is that someone left me for dead.”

A spokesman for Norfolk police said they were still searching for a blue four-door saloon which was travelling in the Holt to Sheringham direction and which sustained heavy front-end damage in the smash.

Anyone with any information should contact PC Jamie Wedderburn on 0845 456 4567.